World Rugby is to drop the word ‘women’s’ from its flagship 15s and sevens World Cup tournament names, opting instead for gender neutral titles for future Rugby World Cups.
The first women’s competition to feature the change will be known as Rugby World Cup 2021, and will be marketed with equal billing to all other World Cup tournaments regardless of gender.
World Rugby claims the move is a first for any major sporting federation and says the purpose of the decision is to promote the profile of the women’s game while “eliminating any inherent or perceived bias towards men’s only competitions and tournaments, which traditionally haven’t specified gender.”
The governing body launched its ‘Women in Rugby’ brand identity and a related ‘Try and Stop Us’ campaign in May 2019 to promote the women’s game. The move to adopt a new approach to naming tournaments was based on a proposal by the Rugby World Cup Limited board, underpinned by World Rugby’s global action plan entitled ‘Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby 2017-2025’.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "This announcement demonstrates our ongoing and unwavering commitment to advancing women in rugby both on and off the field in line with our ambitious strategic plan.
"Unintentional gender bias in sport is an ongoing issue. As a global sporting federation we need to be leading from the front on the issue of equality. By adopting gender balance in the naming of men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup competitions, we are setting new standards in equality in rugby."
World Rugby says it is expecting record audience numbers for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan which starts in September, and has also announced that it will offer its own online streaming service to air live coverage of the games for free in territories where it doesn’t have a broadcast deal.