Sally Horrox, World Rugby director for women: Countries must learn from England

Sally Horrox, the new director of women at World Rugby, says that countries around the globe need to “learn” from England in order to “narrow their gap”.

England are the number one international team, having won 23 consecutive Test matches.

Horrox, who was appointed earlier in the month to her post, stated that “It's incredible to have a country and a union with best practice to aspiration to.”

“We need to reduce the gap. We must learn from England, as well as from other countries.”

Horrox, a former lawyer and netball player, said that change will “take time” and would require “planning and partnership as well as long-term investments”.

She said, “Let's be honest. Let's not lower the benchmark. Let's raise all our boats.” “How amazing would that be?”

Horrox has replaced Katie Sadleir who quit World Rugby to become chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

In her first week of post, it was announced that England would host the women’s World Cup in 2025. Australia will follow in 2033.

BBC Sport: “We are not going to be able crack it overnight,” she said. “We need this golden decade so bear with me, bear by us, and we'll do everything in our power.”

The Rugby Football Union's attempt to host the 2025 World Cup was headlined by the desire to sell out Twickenham Stadium for the final.

England's women were viewed by a record crowd of 15,863 at home for their ceremony Six Nations game against Ireland at Welford Road in AprilJust one week after they played Wales, 14,689 was just weeks ago.

Sue Day, RFU chief financial officer, said that those figures exceeded targets and that there was a “pathway” and a strategy for building towards the final in 2025.

Alan Gilpin, chief executive officer of World Rugby, said that Covid had made a positive impact in the women’s game all over the world. But now is the time to make a difference and move forward.

“Everyone is in love with women's rugby England right now, so 2025 represents an incredible opportunity.”

Horrox World Cup ticket sales

Sally Horrox
Horrox was first appointed in February, but she took over her position earlier in the month

Gilpin believes England will face competition from France and the hosts at the next World Cup, which will be held in New Zealand later this season.

However, ticket sales for this tournament – delayed by the coronavirus epidemic for a year – have been slow.

The Eden Park has 50,000 capacity and will host seven matches over three matchdays. including the final.

Horrox stated, “I am not overly concerned.” It's a late-walk-up market.

“They have just lifted the entry requirements [into New Zealand]We are investing more in promotion and marketing to drive ticket sales and make this the best event possible.

Horrox launches WXV

Horrox was previously involved with the Women's Super League, and Netball Super League.

These experiences will be a part of her preparations for the. launch of WXV– The World Rugby's first ever global women's rugby competition will be held in 2023.

Horrox described WXV as “a huge priority for the game” and stressed that its goal was to “more annual competition in order to improve competitive balance”.

There are concerns already about the competition's cut through, as the current launch window for September-October 2023, which coincides with the Men's World Cup in France, raises concern.

Horrox said, “I'm coming to post off of the back of many good work and consulting with the unions so my real confidence that from an performance perspective and a schedule and scheduling perspective they have done a fantastic job of identifying what window is right for me.”

“It is not ideal that this clashes with men's World Cup. So we're still looking at it. But that's where it's at the moment.”

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