Rugby

Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025 to start in Sunderland and end at Twickenham

The Stadium of Light will host the opening Women’s Rugby World Cup fixture (Owen Humphreys/PA)
The Stadium of Light will host the opening Women’s Rugby World Cup fixture (Owen Humphreys/PA) The Stadium of Light will host the opening Women’s Rugby World Cup fixture (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Twickenham will host the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup final, with Sunderland’s Stadium of Light chosen as the venue for the opening fixture.

World Rugby and Rugby Football Union made the announcement on Monday morning, after it had been confirmed in August which eight stadiums would be used for the tournament.

The Red Roses will open the World Cup at the 48,707-seater Stadium of Light on August 22 before the 16-team competition concludes at Twickenham on September 27.

Stadium of Light
Stadium of Light The Stadium of Light will host the opening Women’s Rugby World Cup fixture (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Twickenham hosting the final opens up the opportunity for a new world-record crowd for a women’s international to be set after the stadium welcomed 58,498 spectators for England’s victory over France earlier this year.

“Women’s Rugby World Cup England 2025 will be a generational moment for rugby,” World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.

“The biggest, most accessible and most widely-viewed, its unstoppable momentum will reach, engage and inspire new audiences in ways that rugby events have not done before.

“The selection of Sunderland for the opening match underscores that mission. We want this to be a sports event that everyone is talking about, that everyone wants to be a part of and one that inspires young people to be a part of.”

A bidding process took place to determine which venue would host the Red Roses’ opener and RFU executive director of rugby development Steve Grainger is delighted to kick off the tournament in the north east.

“The whole reason we bid for this tournament originally was to grow the game and to grow the game in areas where perhaps it hasn’t had the reach we wanted,” Grainger added.

“You have a fantastic opening match, which we know we will get up here and it is also right at the start of the rugby season.

“So, another real advantage to the timing of this tournament is the ability to inspire people and then importantly to try to get them down to local rugby clubs at the start of the season would be incredible.

“And kicking something off in an area of the country where we have not traditionally had our sport is quite momentous.”

The UK Government has thrown its support behind the 10th edition of the tournament, which will this time be countrywide after the 2010 World Cup in England was largely played at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew reflected: “I think the country has got such a good reputation now for putting on these major events and we’ve had huge successes with them.

“What I love about these events is we are spreading it all around the country so every part of it can get a share and as a Northern MP, I am absolutely delighted they have chosen the north east to have the opening match.

“And what happens beforehand and what happens after is just as important as the tournament itself.

“If we can really grow the game and encourage more women and girls to take part in rugby, then that will help us achieve our wider ambitions of expanding sport for women and girls.”

The impact of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph on home soil has been cited as an inspiration.

Sarah Massey, managing director of 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup, said: “For us, this tournament is all about visibility and if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.

“So if you don’t see the event and you don’t see those role models, you don’t believe you can be part of that.

“I think that inspiration the Lionesses had and so many other of major women sports at the moment, it means women and girls do feel there is a place for them in sport.

“We have taken learnings from what the FA did with the Euros and we’ve had lots of meetings with them. If we can leave this tournament inspiring others, then we would have done our job.”