EXETER will benefit from a long lasting legacy of participation in sport created by the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 after the city was formally unveiled as a host for the prestigious tournament.

Sandy Park will be a host venue for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which gets underway in less than 500 days. Seven matches are expected to be played at the home of Exeter Chiefs in August and September 2025.

Tony Rowe CBE, Chairman and CEO of Exeter Rugby Club and Bindu Arjoon, Chief Executive of Exeter City Council.
Tony Rowe CBE, Chairman and CEO of Exeter Rugby Club and Bindu Arjoon, Chief Executive of Exeter City Council. (RFU)

A launch event at Sandy Park celebrated Impact ’25, a transformational legacy programme that has seen £12.13m of Government funding committed to women and girls’ grassroots rugby already as part of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025.

The aim of growing the game throughout the country. Impact ’25 will be delivered by the RFU in partnership with UK Government, Sport England and UK Sport.

The programme will provide substantial improvements in facilities and greater opportunities for females at all levels of the game in England, with a range of support being offered to clubs across four key pillars: facility development, coaches and match officials, playing and volunteering, and community and fan engagement. 

To celebrate 500 days to go to the curtain-raiser of Rugby World Cup 2025, the tournament legacy programme was announced at Exeter’s Sandy Park.

Dozens of young players from local rugby clubs were joined by World Rugby’s Chief of Women’s Rugby, Sally Horrox, as well as leading figures from Exeter Rugby Club and Exeter City Council.

Bindu Arjoon, Chief Executive of Exeter City Council, said: “The City Council is delighted to support the launch of the Women’s Rugby World Cup England 2025 here in Exeter.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the Women’s World Cup England 2025 will be just as important for the city as the men’s tournament was a decade earlier.

“As well as placing Exeter firmly in the global spotlight once again, with all the benefits that brings, it will leave a lasting legacy of increased participation in sport by women and girls in the city. That will be a fantastic achievement.”

Tony Rowe CBE, Chairman and CEO of Exeter Rugby Club, said: “The impact of hosting fixtures during the 2015 Rugby World Cup was transformative for a number of clubs in the South West, I firmly believe that we will see an even greater impact on Women’s Sport in our region as we host seven WRWC Fixtures in 2025.

“The Exeter Chiefs Women’s team have laid the foundations for professional Women’s Rugby in the South West over the past few years, and I for one am excited to watch crowds turning up in their thousands to cheer on the nations that will play their matches with us here in Exeter.”

In Exeter, the key themes of legacy will be based around:

• Participation – a strong focus on the transition of female players from primary to secondary schools and increasing the playing base of teenage girls. • Community Engagement - working with deprived areas in the city to provide attractive opportunities to get involved in rugby. • Visibility Awareness - showcasing the sport across the city before and during the tournament. • Workforce - creating a network hub to recruit new coaches, referees and volunteers to the game.

Nationally, thanks to Impact ‘25, 90 clubs have been awarded funding to upgrade toilet facilities and 93 have been provided with sanitary packages, with 10 larger grants for clubs to develop social spaces and changing rooms, all aimed at making rugby clubs more welcoming and inclusive of female players.

A total of 253 coaches and match officials have been supported with their development in order to increase the number, quality and visibility of female coaches and match officials in rugby and 97 clubs have received grants to start up U12s activity to bring more girls who have never been involved in the sport, into rugby clubs.

The aim of Impact ‘25 is to accelerate the growth of women’s rugby and help the RFU achieve its ambition of 100,000 female players by 2027.

Next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 and its legacy programme will be a game-changer for women’s participation across the sport, shaping positive perceptions at all levels of the game and benefitting local communities.

Exeter’s Sandy Park is among eight host venues for the tournament. The World Cup kicks off in Sunderland on August 22, 2025, with the final being held at the iconic Twickenham Stadium.

The ambition is to sell-out Twickenham and break the current world record attendance of 58,498 set by the Red Roses in April 2023. 

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Executive Director, Place at Sport England, said: “Rugby has so much to offer women and girls – from better physical and mental health to the development of sporting skills and a sense of community and belonging that only sport can give. 

“Encouraging and enabling more women and girls to find their way into sport and physical activity is at the core of our Uniting the Movement strategy.

“We support the RFU’s target of getting 100,000 women and girls playing rugby by 2027.   We have made progress towards this and the Rugby World Cup 2025 and the Impact Programme will play a key role in achieving this.”

Tickets for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 are expected to go on sale in September.

People can stay up-to-date and register their interest now by visiting: https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/2025 .