Brian Moore says without the growth of women's rugby support for the sport will decline
England rugby legend Brian Moore has said that the growth of women's rugby is fundamental to the future health of the sport.
Moore also said that without investment in the women's side of the game participation and support would dwindle.
The habitually outspoken commentator wrote in his Telegraph column: "The uncomfortable truth is that without the growth of women’s rugby, participation numbers in many traditional nations would be in decline."
Moore's comments come just days before the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, which he suggests could be "a great advert for rugby as a minority sport".
He added that if the competition wasn't a success, interest in the sport in Tier 2 countries could decline.
Tier 2 are teams that do not play in World Rugby's showcase events - namely the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship - but are above development level. Tier 2 Pacific teams compete in World Rugby's Pacific Nations Cup and Tier 2 European squads play in Rugby Europe International Championships.
Tier 2 nations cannot be promoted into these showcase events which brings in huge profits for the governing body. Moore suggests the money raised and invested in these tournaments should now be put into the women's game so Tier 2 countries can become more interested in the sport.
"Without some form of promotion and relegation, Tier 2 countries will forever be reliant on World Rugby subsidies," he continued.
"This is money that would be better invested in more fledgling but potentially potent target markets and, importantly, supporting the women’s game."
A series of Tier 2 countries are competing in the World Cup but are generally expected to be knocked out in the early stages.
The Rugby World Cup starts on September 20.