Study initiated by RFU to enhance visibility of women's game

March 22, 2023 : The Rugby Football Union (RFU) of England has announced a long-term study aimed at boosting the visibility of the Red Roses women’s rugby team. The study, in partnership with O2, the principal sponsor, will use data from the Women’s Sports Trust (WST) to help reduce the gender awareness gap and fill the 82,000-seat Twickenham Stadium for a Red Roses game by 2025. The RFU hopes to break the current attendance record of 42,579 for women’s rugby, set at the 2021 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park. Already, 40,000 tickets have been sold for England’s opening match of the Women’s Six Nations against France on April 29.

The study aims to gather insights to understand how to raise the visibility of the women’s rugby team further. Alex Teasdale, the RFU Women’s Game Director, said that although there has been significant growth in the women and girls’ game, they have set themselves ambitious targets to grow it even further. The study will use data provided by the WST to explore opportunities for rugby to reach new audiences by boosting the profile of the women’s game.

The WST’s data revealed that the live TV viewership of the men’s Six Nations is currently 10.8 times that of the women’s tournament. However, it also showed that about one million fans watched at least three minutes of last year’s women’s Six Nations live but did not watch any of the men’s Six Nations live. Additionally, 21% of those who watched only the women’s Six Nations were under the age of 35, compared to 9% who watched both men and women’s tournaments.

The data highlighted areas where there is work to be done, showing that while 43% of the audience who only watched the women’s Six Nations were women, 52% of those who only watched the men’s Six Nations were also women. WST CEO Tammy Parlour said that their research into the visibility of women’s sport over the last few years has been key to proving its commercial value. She added that although they have seen an upwards trend in several areas, there is still work to be done, especially when compared to the men’s game.