A momentous 2023 for Women’s Rugby

22 February 2024 |

The year 2023 was nothing short of a touchdown for women’s rugby, with more people lacing up and packing out stadiums than ever before. The buzz that started with the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 just kept on growing, leading to record-smashing attendance and an explosion of global participation.

Furthermore Women’s Rugby Saw Unprecedented Growth in 2023! And we are excited to see what 2024 will hold as Women’s Rugby in 2023 reached new hights.

Grassroots to Global: The Numbers Game

So the World Rugby’s stats are in, and they’re looking pretty sweet:

  • The global female playing population is up by 7% – that’s almost two million!
  • Active registered female players? A whopping 33.9% increase to 319,966.
  • Female participants spiked by 53.2%.

What counts as a ‘participant’? It’s anyone who’s given rugby a go, whether in school programs or at a local club, and over 1.3 million girls got their first taste of rugby in 2023.

Programs Paving the Way

World Rugby isn’t resting on its laurels. They’ve launched new programs like T1 Rugby and also Get into Rugby to keep the momentum going. Take South Africa: more than 1,000 girls were introduced to T1 Rugby via the WXV 2 legacy program. Plus, 160 lucky players scored an invite to the HSBC SVNS Cape Town event.

Betway also joined the fray in 2022 by introducing Betway Next Phase in partnership with SA Rugby. Undertaken by SA Rugby’s first-ever High-Performance Manager for women’s rugby, Lynne Cantwell, Betway Next Phase is an exciting three-year project that will see Betway and SA Rugby embark on a national campaign to assist develop, upskill, and empower women’s rugby coaches.

Record Crowds & Test Matches

Twickenham was buzzing with a world-record 58,498 fans cheering England’s victory over France in the 2023 Women’s Six Nations decider. But that’s not all; Australia, Canada, and Madagascar also hit national attendance highs, showing growth across various markets.

WXV is the shiny new annual global women’s 15s competition, this tournament made women’s test rugby more visible than ever. And let’s not forget the reimagined HSBC SVNS heating things up ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Close to 100 women’s test matches went down in 2023, with teams gearing up for one of the three spicy WXV tournaments. Spoiler alert: England, Scotland and Ireland bagged the inaugural WXV trophies! Let’s see what the WXV brings in 2024.

New Kids on the Block

Enter Latvia, Bulgaria, and Croatia, making their test debuts with style. Landmarks didn’t stop there—Portugal toured Brazil, and the Caribbean saw 15s participation widen.

Maya Ilieva, Bulgaria’s assistant coach, praised the flexible approach of smaller unions. Meanwhile, Croatia’s head honcho Petra Druskovic celebrated the vibrant evolution of women’s rugby 15s.

Influential Rugby Women

There are many rugby stars to mention however we have chosen a select few to just wet your appetite! Do yourself a favour and follow Women’s Rugby in 2024, you are sure to see plenty of new blood and excitement. We are fortunate to see some great sports women in the Springbok team as well as locally. Some names to keep a lookout for and that have made a huge impact on Women’s Rugby in the :

  • Babalwa Laksa is from South Africa, playes for the Springboks and also for the Harlequins.
  • Ilona Maher is an American Rugby Union player that plays for the US 7’s team and an Olympian.
  • Zenay Jordaan a South African rugby union player and fellow Springbok to Babalwa, she also plays for EP Queens.
  • Marlie Packer is an English Rugby Union player that plays for England and Saracens.
  • Emily Scarratt currently plays centre and fullback for Loughborough Lightning and for England.
  • Aseza Hele is a Springbok and also plays for the Harlequins alongside Babalwa Laksa.
  • Gabrielle Vernier is a French rugby player and one of the best centres in the world.
  • Portia Woodman is part of the Black Ferns and the leading try scored in the World Series and she has many accoladed to her name.
  • Katelyn Vahaakolo plays for the Black Ferns and was recently crowned World Rugby Women’s 15s Breakthrough Player of the Year. We are bound to see plenty more from her.

Women’s Rugby: Future So Bright!

With Paris 2024 and season two of WXV looming, plus the ramp-up to Women’s RWC 2025 – the women’s rugby scene shows zero signs of hitting the brakes. Here’s to the unstoppable rise of women’s rugby! Thank you Women’s Rugby 2023, this is the start of something incredible.

And ensure you diarise the upcoming womens sports events as to not miss out on the action. We have the HSBC 7’s 2024, the Paris Olympics, Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 and the inaugural WXV tournaments to look forward to.

There are many best betting sites in South Africa to consider when you want to place your bets, from the ever popular Betway SA, Playa Bets or Hollywoodbets to just name a few. We have also reviewed all these bookies for you in order to find the one best suited for your needs.

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