|Most recent tournament|
|Instituted||6 April 1991|
|Number of teams||12|
|Regions||Worldwide (World Rugby)|
The Women's Rugby World Cup is the premier international competition in rugby union for women. The tournament is organised by the sport's governing body, World Rugby. The championships are currently held every four years; the event was most recently held in Ireland in 2017.World Rugby has reset the tournament on a new four-year cycle to avoid conflict with the Olympics and Women's World Cup Sevens; World Cups will thus be held every four years after 2017.
The first Women's Rugby World Cup was held in 1991 and won by the United States. The 1991 and 1994 competitions were not officially sanctioned by World Rugby, then known as the International Rugby Football Board, at the time - they later received retrospective endorsement in 2009 when the governing body included the 1991 and 1994 champions in its list of previous winners.It was not until the 1998 tournament held in the Netherlands that the tournament received official IRB backing. The most successful team, with five titles, is New Zealand.
Prior to the first Women's Rugby World Cup officially sanctioned by the International Rugby Board there had been three previous tournaments of a similar nature. The first of these was an event held in August 1990 in New Zealand. Though not considered a world cup, the tournament was referred to as the World Rugby Festival for Women. The competition included teams representing the United States, the Netherlands, Russia, and the hosts, New Zealand – who emerged as winners after defeating the United States in the final.
The first tournament referred to as the Women's Rugby World Cup was held in 1991 and hosted by Wales. Twelve countries were divided into four groups of three. The United States, against expectations, took the first championship with a 19–6 victory over England.In the Plate competition Canada prevailed over Spain 18–4. Following the first tournament it was decided to move the tournament schedule to the year prior to the next men's world cup therefore reducing the quadrennial cycle to just three years.
The next event was originally scheduled to take place in Amsterdam but ended up being moved to Scotland. Eleven countries competed in the tournament with the English meeting the United States in the final for the second time however, in this instance England emerged as winners.
The 1998 tournament became the first women's world cup officially sanctioned by the International Rugby Board. Amsterdam, who were originally scheduled to host the previous world cup, hosted the largest ever tournament with all matches played at the new National Rugby Centre in the city's west end.The tournament also saw a record sixteen teams compete. New Zealand, who withdrew from the previous tournament, also competed. The final saw New Zealand defeat the United States and claim their first world cup title.
The next event was taken to Spain in 2002. New Zealand won the title for the second time by defeating England 19–9 in the final.
The 2006 World Cup took place in Edmonton, Canada, and was the first major international rugby union tournament and women's world cup held in North America. New Zealand defeated England in the final to win their third successive world cup title.
A record four countries expressed interest in hosting the 2010 World Cup. After considering bids from England, Germany, Kazakhstan and South Africa, the IRB announced that the 2010 event would take place in England.The tournament was staged in London, with the final played at the Twickenham Stoop.
The 2017 World Cup was hosted by the Irish Rugby Football Union, which governs the sport on an All-Ireland basis. Games were held in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and in Belfast in Northern Ireland.
For the 2021 edition, New Zealand, will host the next Women's Rugby World Cup.
|Year||Host||Final||Third place match||Number of teams|
|Winner||Score||Runner-up||3rd place||Score||4th place|
|19 – 6|
|38 – 23|
|27 – 0|
|44 – 12|
|31 – 15|
|19 – 9|
|41 – 7|
|25 – 17|
|17 – 8|
|13 – 10|
|22 – 8|
|21 – 9|
|25 – 18|
|41 – 32|
|31 – 23|
|Team|| 1991 || 1994 || 1998 || 2002 || 2006 || 2010 || 2014 || 2017 || 2021 |
The format for the 2006 tournament split the 12 participating nations into four pools of three teams. Each nation played three games, after the completion of which a re-seeding process took place. Nations were moved into divisions dictated by their respective overall tournament ranking with the top teams proceeding to the knockout stages.
The 2010 event maintained the number of teams participating at twelve, with regional qualifying tournaments.In previous tournaments teams were selected by the IRB based on international performances as opposed to qualification via regional tournaments.
The tournament has grown considerably in the past fifteen years although television audiences and event attendance still remain relatively low, especially in comparison to other women's world cup events. The final of the 2006 event in Canada was broadcast in a number of countries and streamed live via the internet.
Sky Sports broadcast 13 live matches from the 2010 World Cup, including the semi-finals, the third and fourth place play-off match and the final. The pool matches shown included all of England's matches, while each of the home nations' featured live too. There were also highlights shown from all other matches during the pool stages.
In Ireland the Women's Rugby World Cup was broadcast by TG4 in 2014, the Irish language channel received praise for airing the tournament. TG4 provided coverage to all of the Irish matches as well as the final and semi-final.
Certain matches in the 2017 WRWC knockout phases drew strong TV viewership in England and France, and were broadcast live in the United States.