Rugby celebrates Women's Day and one million players and James Mortimer     12 Mar 2013

Women’s Rugby is one of the world’s major growth team sports and continues to reach out and engage more women and girls than ever before.

And with the International Rugby Board launching a range of new initiatives and tournaments to deliver the best-possible platform for the advancement of Women’s Rugby, the future is looking distinctly bright.

The popularity of social media is playing a major role in the attraction and growth of the sport, with players, coaches and match officials pledging their messages of support and excitement on International Women's Day by using the hash tag #WRUGBY

Netherlands Sevens player Mara Moberg (@maramoberg) tweeted: "Happy #IWD. Keep up the good work with being a role model for women in your country.”

IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper (@brettgosper) said: "Over 1 million women & girls in 112 nations now playing Rugby. RT on @womensday & inspire more girls 2 play this gr8 sport! #wrugby #IWD".

Australia Sevens captain Rebecca Tavo (@rebeccatavo) added: "I'll be repping women at work. On my train in the mines on Friday :-)".

Canada's Mandy Marchak (@MandyMarchak) said: "Will be spending my 9-5 training with the team. No better group to be around."

Marchak’s captain Jen Kish (@Jen_Kish) responded: "I can't think of a better way to celebrate @womensday than being in rugby cleats."

The IRB is committed to the ongoing growth and development of the Women’s Game as the sport counts down to Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games debut in Rio where 12 women’s teams will compete for a gold medal on the world’s largest sporting stage.

Guided by the strategic objectives of the groundbreaking IRB Women’s Rugby Plan, the inaugural IRB Sevens World Series kicked off in 2012, with events in Dubai and Houston proving extremely popular, while the IRB hosted its first Women’s Disciplinary Official Conference last month.

Next year will see the Women’s Rugby World Cup take place in France. Australia, New Zealand, France, England, USA and Canada qualified automatically for the Tournament. Ireland were the most recent team to qualify, after they won their first ever Triple Crown in this year's RBS 6 Nations campaign. They're now on course for their first ever Grand Slam but must overcome France tomorrow and then face Italy in Milan.

Speaking about International Women’s Day, IRB Rugby Committee Member Cheryl Soon said: “The purpose of today is to inspire and celebrate women’s achievement in Rugby. We now have more women and girls playing and engaging in the sport than ever before and we have a really exciting opportunity with the Olympic Games in 2016 to ensure that Women’s Rugby is at the very forefront of Women’s team sport and is seen as an attractive sport to play and engage with through its character-building values.

“International Women’s Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and encourage players, coaches and officials of every ability to take part in sport, as well as showcasing the positive values that Rugby can bring to the lives of women and young girls around the world. I hope that International Women’s Day has inspired a new generation of women and young girls to take up Rugby and look forward to hopefully seeing them in Rio 2016!”