A record number of people are playing rugby worldwide as the sport continues to grow and prosper across the globe, according to the World Rugby Year in Review 2018.

According to World Rugby, the sport’s unprecedented growth continued in 2018 with 9.6 million men, women and children playing the game around the world. This includes 2.7 million women, up 10 percent on the previous year and accounting for more than a quarter of the total global playing population.

“Excitingly the total number of registered female players grew by an impressive 28 percent to 581,000 across World Rugby’s member unions. This comes during the first full year of implementation of World Rugby’s ambitious plan, Accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25, which aims to support the growth and development of the women’s game and promote parity,” said the global body in a statement.

“That success was matched off the field by increased engagement levels from female fans – 38 percent increase in video views by women and the growth of the World Rugby and Rugby World Cup female audience on Twitter to more than 30 percent.

“It was also reflected in increased diversity at the highest levels of the game in a year when World Rugby added 17 new female members to its Council and New Zealand was named as first-time hosts of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021.