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World Rugby claims first with gender-neutral World Cup naming

World Rugby has claimed a first for a major sporting federation by announcing that its flagship 15s and sevens World Cups will no longer include genders in their titles.

The women’s designation will be dropped from the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with the tournament to be known simply as Rugby World Cup 2021.

The move is designed to ensure that World Rugby’s competitions have equal billing from a brand perspective, irrespective of whether they feature men or women. It is also hoped the decision will further elevate the profile of women’s rugby and eliminate any inherent or perceived bias towards men’s events, which typically do not specify gender in their official names.

The decision has been made following a recommendation brought before the World Rugby Council by the Rugby World Cup Limited Board.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This announcement demonstrates our ongoing and unwavering commitment to advancing women in rugby both on and off the field in line with our ambitious strategic plan.

“Unintentional gender bias in sport is an ongoing issue. As a global sporting federation we need to be leading from the front on the issue of equality. By adopting gender balance in the naming of men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup competitions, we are setting new standards in equality in rugby.”

World Rugby’s chief marketing officer Marissa Pace added: “World Rugby is clearly committed to equality in our sport and we decided that we no longer need to identify our marquee events with a gender bias from a brand level. Our three World Cup events are the pinnacle of international rugby and we wanted the focus to be on the event and the athletes, not their gender. We’re very proud to be leading the sports industry in this space.”

In May, World Rugby unveiled a new global brand identity and marketing campaign in an attempt to drive global exposure and encourage participation in women’s rugby. World Rugby identified 15 female players from a range of cultures and age groups to feature in the creative materials for the new ‘Unstoppables’ campaign.