World Rugby, the international governing body for rugby union, and the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport yesterday (August 29) announced a partnership aimed at “encouraging global sports leaders to get behind the gender equality in sport movement.”

Through the new strategic relationship, which begins in November, the two will work together over the next four years to raise awareness about the need for change across sport through “a series of shared initiatives.”

They have called on sports leaders to support the movement by identifying and championing female leaders.

The collaboration supports the objectives of World Rugby’s Women in Rugby Plan 2017-25.

It will connect the next two women’s Rugby World Cups – in New Zealand this year and England in 2025 – with the next two IWG World Conferences on Women & Sport – Auckland, New Zealand, in 2022 and the UK in 2026.

World Rugby will send up to 50 female leaders to the 2022 conference, call on other global sports leaders to do the same, and work with the IWG on guest speakers and panelists for Women in Rugby events during the conference and the upcoming World Cup.

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The IWG is a global network aimed at advancing gender equity and equality in sport, physical education, and physical activity.

World Rugby’s director of women’s rugby Sally Horrox said: “World Rugby is actively working to reset the dial for women and girls in rugby across the globe, across every rugby region. Guided by an impactful plan, we are creating a global movement – everyone is welcome and everyone will have their part to play.

“As part of our commitment, we are delighted to be entering a strategic relationship with the International Working Group on Women & Sport, who are the standard bearer for the advancement of women in sport. With that in mind, we are supporting our Executive Leadership Scholars and other female leaders across our unions to stay in New Zealand after Rugby World Cup this year to access the world’s best strategic thinking and practical solutions at the IWG World Conference.”

IWG United Kingdom secretary general Lisa O’Keefe added: “I am delighted that IWG Women & Sport and World Rugby will be working closely together over the next four years. This partnership provides a great opportunity to not only share knowledge and learning but also demonstrate the power and impact of such collaborations to grow the opportunities for women and girls to take part and excel in sport.”

Meanwhile, the Rugby World Cup 2025 in England has begun its search for an independent chair of the board of directors, marking the start of preparations for the tournament.

The chair will oversee a board comprising representatives from World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union national governing body, and the UK government.

Interested parties should contact for further information ahead of the closing date on September 5.

England 2025 is the first Rugby World Cup to use a new joint-venture model aimed at optimizing efficiency and impact. The tournament is aiming to continue the advancement of women's sport in the country and globally.

World Rugby Chair Sir Bill Beaumont said: “When we announced England as the host nation for Rugby World Cup 2025 we did so knowing that we would be breaking new ground as the first event to be organized under the revised Rugby World Cup model at a time when interest and participation in women’s sport is on a massive high.

“Working in partnership with the RFU and UK Government, we have set the bar high in terms of what success looks like and England 2025 will be a game-changer. With one clear vision, the new model enables all stakeholders to maximize key objectives that will underpin a clear vision for the tournament to be the biggest and best women’s rugby event ever, elevating women in rugby on a global basis, delivering a lasting legacy, championing sustainability and delivering an exceptional fan experience.

“To oversee this ambition, we are looking to appoint an experienced independent Chair who is passionate about the power of women’s sport, has an excellent understanding of operating within governance structures, and will oversee the delivery of what we believe will be the biggest and most impactful women’s rugby event of all time, advancing the profile, reach and inspiration of women’s sport in England and across the globe.”