2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup to open in Sunderland

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The opening match of the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England will take place at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, while a record attendance is being targeted for the final of the tournament at Twickenham.

England will kick off the tournament at the Stadium of Light (pictured), which has a capacity of over 48,000, on August 22, 2025. The final will take place at the 82,000-capacity Twickenham on September 27.

The host venues for the tournament were announced in August. As well as Twickenham and the Stadium of Light, matches will be held at American Express Stadium (Brighton), Ashton Gate (Bristol), Sandy Park (Exeter), AJ Bell Stadium (Salford – subject to confirmation), Franklin’s Gardens (Northampton), and LNER Community Stadium (York).

Only four of the venues selected – Ashton Gate, Franklin’s Gardens, Sandy Park and AJ Bell Stadium – are home to Premiership rugby clubs. American Express Stadium, Stadium of Light and LNER Community Stadium are primarily football venues.

The venues were announced to mark two years until the start of the tournament, which will expand from 12 to 16 teams for the first time.

It is hoped the final at Twickenham will set a new record attendance for women’s rugby union. The current record is 58,498, which was set earlier this year when England defeated France at Twickenham.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Women’s Rugby World Cup England 2025 will be a generational moment for rugby. 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.”

The 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup will be organised through a joint venture between World Rugby and England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU), with support from the UK government. It will mark the first time the tournament has taken place across eight cities.

Steve Grainger, executive director of rugby development for the RFU, added: “Both the Stadium of Light and Twickenham Stadium, as hosts of the opening and closing matches, along with the other six tournament venues evidences the RFU’s tournament goal of boosting development of the sport right around the country and achieving our ambition to have 100,000 female players by 2027.  

“To drive forward this work we are delighted to be working closely with Sport England, the UK Government and other organisations to create a transformational legacy programme. We are very grateful to the government for committing funding to this transformational tournament.”

Canada, England, France and New Zealand have already qualified for the tournament after finishing in the top four at the 2021 event. The remaining positions will be filled via WXV and regional competitions in 2024.