World Rugby, Mastercard seal deal to speed up growth of women rugby

World Rugby, Mastercard seal deal to speed up growth of women rugby


World Rugby has unveiled details of a transformative five-year partnership with Mastercard to accelerate the development of Women in Rugby and supercharge the international federation’s ambitious Accelerating the Development of Women in its 2017-25 strategic plan.

The record-setting partnership will deliver a series of firsts with Mastercard becoming the founding Global Partner of World Rugby’s Women in Rugby programme.

Mastercard will exclusively focus on raising youth participation and raising the global profile of women’s global competitions and calendar. It will also be the first worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2021 and Rugby World Cup 2025 as the preferred card for both tournaments.

In addition, Mastercard will be the first global partner of WXV (Women 15 aside) – the annual global women’s competition due to start in 2023.

Besides the partnership, World Rugby has also launched its new Women in Rugby Team Powered marketing campaign. It aims to inspire more women and girls to play and watch the sport by showcasing our belief that women’s rugby is the ultimate team sport – on and off the pitch – and how, through the power of togetherness, a team is greater than the sum of its parts.

Mastercard will be the exclusive partner of the Youth Unstoppables element of the Team Powered campaign and work to inspire young women and girls to get involved in the sport through a unique digital content series championing inspirational females around the world.

The new campaign and Mastercard partnership will build on strong foundations in women’s rugby that has been experiencing unprecedented growth in recent years. At present, more than 2.7 million women and girls are involved in the sport globally, making up a quarter of the world’s rugby playing population.

Latest Nielsen Research for World Rugby has reported women’s rugby is on the rise with interest in established markets up to 45 per cent and in emerging markets to 27 per cent, a 15 per cent and 22 per cent increase since 2018, respectively.

In recognition of the unique values of rugby, Mastercard has been a long-time supporter of the sport, especially the women’s version, with several rugby-focussed projects including that include successful partnerships with the men’s Rugby World Cup since 2008, Rugby World Cup (Women’s) since 2017 and Golden Lions Rugby Union – an amateur women’s club league, and senior women’s team since 2020.

The partnership with Mastercard also saw the appointment of brand ambassadors Piwokuhle Nyanda, a professional South African and Golden Lions women’s rugby player, and Chanel Alberts, the head coach of the Golden Lions senior women’s team, to champion and develop grassroots rugby in South Africa.

It has also honoured the best women’s and men’s 15s players in the World with sponsorship of women’s and men’s 15s Player of the Year Awards at the World Rugby Awards. 

Mastercard will also be using its priceless platform to curate unique experiences with World Rugby and brand ambassadors exclusively available on and the development of rugby-specific content in future, which reinforces the company’s dedication to gender equity, aligning it with its signature STEM curriculum titled ‘Girls4Tech’.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said of the partnership, “Women’s rugby is growing from strength to strength globally and the new Team Powered campaign and Mastercard partnership will supercharge the sport’s growth, inspiring a new generation of players, fans and parents.”

“Team Powered showcases the unique values, diversity and inclusivity of women’s rugby and will encourage more women and girls to get involved in the sport, on and off the pitch. Our new commercial partnership reflects our ambitious plans to advance women in rugby at all levels and, as a long-standing supporter of rugby, Mastercard is a perfect fit,” Gilpin explained.

He pointed out that Mastercard’s vision for the sport aligns with the focus on accelerating accessibility, visibility, commerciality and competition within women’s rugby – the single-biggest opportunity to grow the sport as a whole globally.

“We have developed an ambitious commercial strategy to underpin the sustainable growth of women’s rugby, encompassing both the elite and community levels of the sport, enabling partners to champion and support all aspects of the women’s game and make an impact in this priority area,” he said.

Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said, “Fostering connections and giving people the opportunity to grow their passions is what Mastercard stands for. We are honoured to support a sport as inclusive as women’s rugby that has seen unprecedented growth in recent years. Together with World Rugby, we look forward to creating programmes and experiences that get people closer to the game they love.”

Katie Sadleir, World Rugby Women’s Rugby General Manager observed, “We are thrilled to welcome Mastercard on board as our founding partner of Women in Rugby. A core pillar of our ambitious women’s strategic plan is to develop a strong and engaged portfolio of strategic commercial partners committed to long-term investment and support for the women’s game.”

Sadlier said further, “I am also very excited by our new Team Powered marketing campaign, which encompasses all the incredible features of women’s rugby and will help us to build on the huge growing number of females involved in our sport in recent years.”

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