World Rugby announced the decision on Monday. Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said this was a « milestone » for the women’s game
The Women’s Rugby World Cup will expand from 12 to 16 teams from the 2025 edition, World Rugby announced on Monday.
The Rugby World Cup Board made the decision earlier this year and World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said it was a « landmark » for the women’s game.
This is the latest in a series of changes the global governing body has made to the women’s tournament. Last year, gender-neutral branding for Rugby World Cups was introduced, meaning that next year’s showpiece will be referred to as the 2021 Rugby World Cup rather than the Women’s Rugby World Cup as it has been before.
The expansion of the tournament to 16 teams comes after the entire format was changed for the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand with the introduction of the quarter-finals. The competition used to go straight from the pool phase to the semi-finals. In 2018 it was also announced that the seeding matches for each of the 12 participating teams would be canceled at the end of the tournament in order to create a more competitive and exciting tournament.
These changes are part of World Rugby’s eight year strategy to develop the women’s game and women in rugby. The board of directors has stated that 28 percent of rugby players worldwide are women and girls.
“In 2017 we put in place an ambitious eight year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby. The focus is on high-performance competitions and the aim of improving and expanding the number of teams participating in top-class events. We have seen over the past few years that more and more teams are making a statement at international level and that unions are developing their women’s high performance programs.
“This is a milestone for the women’s game. The expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens up additional opportunities and inspiring play opportunities for unions at the highest level, and creates an additional incentive for unions around the world to continue to invest and grow in their women’s programs. ”
The selection process for hosts for the 2025 edition will start in February 2021 and should be concluded in May 2022 with a vote by the council.
The 2021 World Cup, the ninth edition since the first tournament in 1991, will take place from 18. September to 16. October on New Zealand’s North Island between Auckland and Whangarei. New Zealand’s Black Ferns are the defending champions after their fifth title, with England being the only other professional team. At the moment the tournament looks like it could be a two-way shootout.
England face well-known opponents in their pool such as France, South Africa and Fiji, whose draw took place two weeks ago.
Wales have qualified and will face New Zealand and Australia in the death pool, but Ireland and Scotland have yet to confirm their places in the tournament after the European qualifier was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Rugby Union, Rugby World Cup, New Zealand, Bill Beaumont
World news – UK – Rugby World Cup for women to expand from 12 to 16 teams from 2025, World Rugby announces
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