England will kickstart proceedings on a Friday night in the North East

England’s women will begin their home World Cup in 2025 at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light Stadium, taking rugby to the North East for the opening fixture of the tournament.

The Red Roses were heavy favourites to win the last tournament in New Zealand but agonisingly lost to the hosts in the final in 2022. They will begin their long-stated aim of winning the World Cup on home soil at the Stadium of Light, a 48,700-seater venue, on Friday 22 August 2025 with their opponent yet to be determined.

Read more: Lions to play in new country for first time when they take on Argentina before 2025 tour

England assistant coach and legendary former captain and record 141-cap international Sarah Hunter is from the North East and was born in North Shields, just under 12 miles from the Stadium of Light – where football side Sunderland currently play in the Championship. Hunter took part in a women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 promotional event to announce the news.

Sarah Hunter reaction to Stadium of Light opener

She said: “When I knew the North East was getting a game, I was so excited and when I heard it was the opening game with the Red Roses, honestly it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“I am so proud to be from the North East and I know how much sport means to people here.

“The game is massive here and I think because we’re so far away, we sometimes get forgotten about, but to rubber-stamp it by hosting that first game here, we can show everyone how great the people are and what a great host city it can be.

“To know it could spark someone to either start rugby or want to continue it and hopefully in three or four World Cups’ time there can be players in the Red Roses team who were here because that is what they needed to generate that excitement and inspiration to want to play rugby.

“I’ve been a couple of times to the Stadium of Light but I’m not going to lie, I’ve been to (Newcastle’s) St James’ Park a few more times! But it’s an incredible stadium.

“My first (Test) cap at Old Albanian Rugby Club was in front of 200 people, the first World Cup I played was a home World Cup (in 2010) and we played our Pool games at Surrey Sports Park, which at the time was the right venue.

“So, to come to the Stadium of Light for the opening game and to have the atmosphere that will be generated, to be playing in stadiums of this calibre has been the dream. I am so excited and in some respects, I wish I was a little bit younger so I could have another crack at a home World Cup!”

New Zealander John Mitchell is the new Red Roses head coach after taking over from Simon Middleton following his stint with Japan at the recent men’s Rugby World Cup in France. If England make it all the way to the final, they will run out at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 27 September 2025.

Runners-up England and reigning champions New Zealand are joined by delayed RWC2021 semi-finalists Canada and France in being the first four teams to have automatically qualified for the 2025 tournament.

The remaining sides will be determined by WXV and regional competitions taking place in 2024.

Which stadiums are being used for the 2025 women’s Rugby World Cup?

Here are a full list of the venues being used for the women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025:

  • Sunderland – Stadium of Light
  • Brighton and Hove – Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium
  • Bristol – Ashton Gate
  • Exeter – Sandy Park
  • London – Twickenham Stadium
  • Manchester – Salford Community Stadium
  • Northampton – Franklin’s Gardens
  • York – York Community Stadium

The tournament will feature 16 teams in total with 32 matches across the eight venues outlined above. It is the tenth edition of the women’s World Cup. New Zealand have won the competition six times, England twice (2014 and 1994) and the only other side to have lifted the trophy are the USA (1991).

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