World Rugby plans to channel England’s energy at Euro 2022 by delivering a safe and successful Women’s World Cup later this year.
Sarah Hunter’s Red Roses head to New Zealand in October confident of matching the success of football’s Lionesses as they top the world rankings and are unbeaten in 23 Tests.
World Rugby has emphasized that the tournament will promote good brain health for players through leading protocols and programmes.
“The success of the Lionesses and the Euros as a whole captivated a nation and it has challenged us all to embrace the enormous opportunity and power of women in sport, as we do,” World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin told the PA news agency.
“We are the next big cab of the rank in this transformational year for women’s sport with a groundbreaking Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, which will be huge in many ways.
“For the world’s best women to realize their potential on the world’s biggest stages, we need to talk together and deliver a world-class experience at our big events.
“We have to talk. And that’s what we do in New Zealand.”
Player welfare has dominated talk in the men’s elite game amid claims that playing the sport has caused brain damage.
World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union are being sued for allegedly failing to “protect players from permanent injury”.
The plaintiffs include former Wales captain Ryan Jones and England’s 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, with many ex-players diagnosed with early-onset dementia and other irreversible neurological impairments.
All teams at the Women’s World Cup are being offered the opportunity to participate in a smart mouth guard research program that will help address the nature of head impacts and accelerations in the women’s game.
A 12-day return-to-play process for a confirmed concussion for players with a history of such injuries will be used.
Video technology will also help detect potential concussions, with World Rugby providing mental wellbeing support to help with anxiety-related issues.
Gilpin said: “We are proud to showcase the latest advances in support and care for female athletes on and off the pitch.
“This is hugely important to us, not only because we all work hard to promote welfare in rugby, but because we recognize that we need to take a different approach for our female athletes, not just replicate what we do for the men.
“Rugby World Cup 2021 will feature the most advanced and comprehensive player welfare standards ever seen at a rugby event.
“We will carry the momentum from New Zealand 2021 to the start of our annual WXV competition and through to an expanded Rugby World Cup in England in 2025 and beyond. Welfare will be at the heart of our planning.”