Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan

England’s Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 winner Rachael Burford and former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan will shine a light on the unprecedented global growth of women’s rugby at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2016 (ConfEx).

They will join World Rugby’s new General Manager for Women’s Rugby Katie Sadlier for an insightful Q&A session on day one of the conference, which is taking at the Hilton London Metropole on 14-15 November.

Burford, who has represented England at three Women’s Rugby World Cups in 15s, including the country’s victorious 2014 campaign in France, and Coghlan, who captained Ireland to their first Women’s Six Nations title in 2013 and to an historic victory over New Zealand at WRWC 2014, will look at the rise of the women’s game and how it has become one of the fastest growing team sports in the world.

The players will reflect on the sport’s hugely successful appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which has delivered a tangible boost to the profile and popularity of the women’s sevens game, prompting increased investment and funding at all levels of the game. They will also look ahead to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland, which is expected to draw the tournament’s largest ever global audience, highlighting the advances the sport has made and showcasing the competitiveness and professionalism of the women’s game.

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Women’s rugby is one of our major growth areas with two million women and girls playing the game worldwide. Aided by increased investment and driven by our strategic Women’s Rugby Plan, which offers a clear vision for growth, it is also one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world.

“World Rugby continues to work hard to ensure the foundations are in place for the ongoing development of the women’s game, both on and off the field, and I look forward to the insight our speakers Rachael Burford and Fiona Coghlan will offer on this subject at Rugby ConfEx 2016.”

Burford said: “Women’s rugby has come on in great leaps and bounds in recent years and I am thrilled to be part of its exceptional growth. Having a strong women’s game is not only vital to the growth of rugby as a whole but it also contributes to the global agenda of increasing physical activity among women and girls, which in turn helps to boost fitness levels and self-confidence and inspire social change.

“The level of competition in the women’s game is also at an all-time high. The interest generated by the Olympic Games continues to draw in new players and fans around the world and I am looking forward to joining Fiona Coghlan to celebrate its success.”

Coghlan, an ambassador for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland, added: “As the profile of women’s rugby continues to grow, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 will serve to inspire and engage even more fans and players around the world. I am extremely excited that the tournament is coming to Ireland next year. We are already seeing the positive impact it is having to develop and build the game of women’s rugby locally.”

The World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2016 (ConfEx) takes place on 14-15 November, 2016 at the Hilton London Metropole and features insightful plenary sessions and an exhibition, in addition to the annual Medical Commission Conference and the World Rugby Sports Integrity Forum. Under the theme The future of rugby ConfEx 2016 will provide an exciting opportunity to network with leading figures and decision-makers from across rugby and the wider world of sport.

The World Rugby Awards 2016 will be held on the eve of the event for the first time. Taking place at the Hilton London Metropole on 13 November, the Awards will celebrate the accomplishments of players, coaches and teams from across the globe during 2016.