World Rugby has announced details of a Leadership Forum to identify ways to inspire the next generation of female leaders and accelerate the development of women in rugby on and off the field of play.
The two-day Leadership Forum, which will take place in Belfast on August 24-25 ahead of the Women's Rugby World Cup final, will bring together senior members of the rugby community and leading figures in Women's sport to share best practice approaches for the development of Women's rugby.
It will also offer unions and regional associations a further opportunity to input into World Rugby's dynamic Women's Rugby Plan 2017-2025, which began an unprecedented consultation phase in March this year.
With more than 2.2 million women and girls playing the game worldwide, accounting for over a quarter of all players globally, women's rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth. The Women's Rugby World Cup 2017, which got underway this week, will further boost the profile of the sport, with the tournament shaping up to be the most competitive, best-attended, most watched and most socially engaged Women's rugby event to date.
Through its landmark Women's Rugby Plan, which is due to be considered by Council later this year, World Rugby is demonstrating its ongoing commitment to enhancing the profile, development, sustainability and success of women's rugby globally, while promoting equal opportunities in sport at all levels.
The Leadership Forum aims to create a strong network of engaged leaders, who will work together to address opportunities for the future growth and leadership of the game and provide a platform for further discussion around the key pillars of the proposed Women's Rugby Plan.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "With Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 placing Women's rugby firmly on the world stage, now is the perfect time to set out our clear vision for growth through the Leadership Forum and our landmark Women's Rugby Plan.
"World Rugby is determined to lead the way, accelerating the future growth and development of the Women's game and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow, who will continue to build a truly inclusive and progressive global sport that promotes equal opportunities both on and off the field of play."
World Rugby General Manager of Women's Rugby, Katie Sadleir, added: "It is exciting to be able to host this important forum for the first time during the Women's Rugby World Cup, a tournament that will certainly take the game to the next level, showcasing our thriving sport to an even bigger audience and engaging and inspiring new players and fans around the world.
"The Leadership Forum will provide the perfect platform to examine the future of the Women's game. We are delighted with the excellent support the global rugby family has shown for this initiative and the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from unions, regional associations, players and officials to our proposed Women's Rugby Plan, as our comprehensive consultation phase continues."