Sunderland’s 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light will host the opening game of the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup, with hosts England taking to the field for that match; the final for the tournament will take place at Twickenham, where organisers are hoping for a record crowd
Last Updated: 11/12/23 10:17am
England will break new ground when the hosts kick off the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
The north-east venue, one of eight chosen to host matches for the next global gathering in just under two years’ time, will see the Red Roses get the tournament under way on Friday August 22.
The World Cup opener will mark the first time the 49,000-capacity football ground has hosted international rugby union.
“Women’s Rugby World Cup England 2025 will be a generational moment for rugby,” World Rugby chair 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.”
2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup venues
Stadium of Light
Salford Community Stadium
LNER Community Stadium
Monday’s announcement of the venue for the opening match of the next World Cup included confirmation Twickenham will host the 2025 final on Saturday, September 27.
Organisers are optimistic of breaking the record crowd of 58,498 which saw the Red Roses defeat France at the home of English rugby union in the Women’s Six Nations decider in May this year.
In total, 16 teams – up from 12 in the 2021 tournament – will be competing in the 10th Women’s Rugby World Cup. Hosts and two-time winners England, reigning champions New Zealand, plus semi-finalists from last time, France and Canada, are already assured of places.
England great Sarah Hunter, the world’s most-capped women’s player and now the Red Roses’ transition coach, is among those delighted to see the World Cup taking the sport to new areas.
“It’s been a real privilege to be part of today’s announcement of the opening and closing venues of Rugby World Cup 2025 and to meet so many talented rugby players from the north-east,” Hunter, who hails from nearby North Shields, said.
“The Red Roses’ opening game of the tournament at the Stadium of Light will be an amazing experience for the players and fans and having witnessed the electric atmosphere of almost 60,000 watching the Red Roses at Twickenham earlier this year, I’ve every confidence it will sell out for the final.”
Hunter: World Cup can inspire next generation
Former England captain Hunter believes Sunderland hosting games in the 2025 World Cup will serve to inspire the next generation of players in the region.
The 38-year-old began playing rugby with Novocastrians and brought the curtain down on her career in the 58-7 win over Scotland at Newcastle’s Kingston Park in May.
“It’s huge,” Hunter told Sky Sports News. “There are so many young girls playing rugby in the north-east of England and bringing mass events can really generate interest and inspire the next generation.
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“To bring the Red Roses, with some of the best players in the world, here is brilliant.
“The north-east is a hotbed for sport, it’s passionate for sport, and they’ll give the Red Roses the biggest welcome and get behind them, and kick off the tournament with a bang.”
Hunter was involved in four World Cups with England during her playing career, including the 2010 tournament on these shores and the Red Roses’ triumph in France four years’ later.
Organisers have set their sights on the 2025 event being the best-attended in the competition’s history and Hunter is fully behind that aim as women’s rugby continues to grow.
“The growth of the game has been huge,” Hunter said. “I 100 per cent back World Rugby and the RFU for saying it’s going to be the biggest attended.
“From my first game as an England player we got about 200 people, to my final game at Kingston Park where we got 2,000. I’ve got absolutely no doubt the records will keep being broken as we build and get to the World Cup in 2025.”