RFU aim to double number of women playing rugby in England
The Rugby Football Union has revealed plans to double the number of women playing rugby in England.
As England prepare to defend the women's Rugby World Cup next year the RFU want to increase the number of women playing the sport from the present 25,000 to 50,000 by 2021.
The organisation also wants to double the number of women's fixtures being played, to increase the number of teams by 75 per cent to over 800, and to increase the number of active women's clubs to over 400.
It has also targeted increasing the number of coaches and referees in the women's game with the ambition that at least 50 per cent of them will be female.
"The more people who play, the more women who play, the more we get improvement and growth into the elite game," said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.
"Women's rugby is growing year on year, and what we want to do is to is support that growth, that development, at the community, local and elite level."
Team GB's women reached the semi-finals of the rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics where they were beaten 25-7 by New Zealand and went on to lose the bronze medal match against Canada 33-10.
"Those of us lucky enough to go to the Olympics saw sevens, and women's sevens, displayed on a global stage, bringing women's rugby to a broader environment," said Ritchie. "We're very proud of everything we achieved at the Olympics.
"It's our shop window. The impact of winning the women's World Cup last time round has added a stimulus to this. What we're about is trying to make sure we do it again.
"We've invested about £20million in the last four years into women's rugby.
"Retaining the World Cup in Dublin next year is a huge priority, and that's why we've now introduced 48 professional contracts for women rugby players (as announced in July)."
In September 2014, the RFU targeted increasing the number of females playing contact rugby from 15,000 to 25,000 by June 2017, and they have already done so. They will also market the England women's team as the 'Red Roses'