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RFU launches plan to increase number of female players
ESPN Staff
September 4, 2014
England's World Cup win has raised the profile of the women's game © Getty Images
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The Rugby Football Union is aiming to increase the number of women playing regular contact rugby by 10,000 within three years.

England's World Cup triumph last month has raised the profile of the women's game and 20 players have since been placed on central contracts, enabling them to train full-time. The RFU launched its new campaign at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday and development director Steve Grainger has outlined the objective of "normalising women's involvement in rugby".

"Women's rugby has been a work in progress for the last 12-18 months," Grainger said. "However, winning the World Cup has given us a massive boost because we now have a trophy to take around and some great role models.

"Our key aim is normalising women's involvement in rugby and positioning the sport as something that has athleticism, strength and toughness. All of our research shows that those aren't things women are afraid of. They're things they're proud of, so we have a real asset.

"We want to build on the massive increase there is in women doing things like Tough Mudder and hot yoga."

The RFU's campaign has the support of Helen Grant, the Minister for sport and tourism. "The future of women's rugby at elite level is bright and the England team is an inspiration to women and girls coming into the sport," Grant said. "I welcome the RFU's strategy to get more women involved in the game - be that as players, coaches or volunteers."

Grainger confirmed the RFU's commitment to using the next year's men's World Cup, hosted by England, as the platform to increase participation in state schools.

"There's been much talk of the demise of rugby in schools, particularly in state secondary schools and we're on a real mission to reverse this," Grainger said. "Four hundred state secondary schools who don't currently play rugby will be playing rugby by the time the World Cup kicks off in September.

"We're well on the way to that target - another 100 are starting this week which will take us to 300. The final 100 will come in September 2015. We will keep the momentum of that going to reach 750 schools by the time the World Cup hits Japan in 2019."

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