Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to host opening game of 2025 Women’s World Cup

The Stadium of Light seats almost 50,000 spectators  (The FA via Getty Images)
The Stadium of Light seats almost 50,000 spectators (The FA via Getty Images)

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light will host the opening game of the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

England’s Red Roses will kick off their home tournament on Friday 22 August, with 15 other teams competing at an expanded tenth edition of the women’s competition.

Seating nearly 50,000 spectators, the home of Championship football club Sunderland is one of eight host venues spread across England.

Twickenham will host the final, with World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) hopeful of a sold-out 82,000 crowd.

England were defeated by New Zealand’s Black Ferns in the Eden Park final of the 2021 World Cup, which was played in 2022 due to the Covid pandemic.

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

Exeter, Northampton, Brighton, Bristol, Salford and York will also host games during the tournament, which will conclude on 27 September.

That final defeat to New Zealand last year is England’s only loss since 2019, with the Red Roses recently securing triumph in the inaugural edition of WXV1 by beating the Black Ferns in Auckland.

England’s Six Nations win over France at Twickenham in April broke the record for the best-attended women’s rugby game in history, with 58,498 watching on as the Red Roses secured another grand slam.

“The Red Roses opening game of the tournament at the Stadium of Light will be an amazing experience for the players and fans,” said Sarah Hunter, the former England captain who is now part of John Mitchell’s coaching staff.

“Having witnessed the electric atmosphere of almost sixty thousand watching the Red Roses at Twickenham earlier this year, I’ve every confidence it will sell out for the final.”