THE Welsh Rugby Union has launched a review into the female community game to deal with the considerable growth in this area of the game and to ensure structures and competition frameworks are suitably robust to continue and sustain this expansion.

The WRU has seen an increase of more than 40% in its regular female playing base since the pandemic closed the 2019-20 season.

Since the return the number of WRU Female hubs has been increased from 34 to 37 as one of the measures to help encourage further growth in this area over the coming years.

Other measures include increased age grades within Hubs and clubs (in secondary education age, the bands are now u12, u14, u16, u18, compared to u13, u15 and u18 traditionally. There are also yearly age bands from u7 to u11).

More than 1300 Female Hub players recently took part in a rugby festival at Principality Stadium on the day of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland.

The review, agreed by the Community Game Board, will cover the following areas:

• It will consider whether the current system is fit for purpose to support the growth of the female game in Wales – and if not, suggest measures that can be put into place.

• It will assess whether current structures support the ever-growing demands on the female community and performance – and provide ways Welsh rugby can adapt to ensure this in the future.

• It will ensure there is an equitable, accessible and sustainable rugby provision for young females in Wales – and a clear pathway to the elite game for players who choose to pursue that option.

• It will review methods of communication and show young people in Wales what will be done to grow the game utilising the insight gathered.

WRU Community Director Geraint John said: “We are buoyed by the rapid growth in this area of our game and the principle aim of the review is to ensure we are equipped to manage and sustain that growth.

“We want to be a governing body that speaks to our young people and adapts our playing and competition framework to their needs whilst ensuring we develop, grow and protect the game in Wales.

“We expect that the findings of the review will be presented to the Community Game Rugby Board along with recommendations for decision in or around August 2022.”

The review will include an extensive consultation process involving players, coaches, parents and other stakeholders and will be supported by experts from varying fields including but not limited to medical, physiological, sport development, equality, diversity, inclusion and other sectors.

In light of the review, all unimplemented changes to the female game will be paused pending the result of the review and any further decisions taken by the Community Rugby Board. This means that the maximum age of mixed rugby remains under 13 until at least May 2023.