Women's Rugby World Cup

Last updated

Women's Rugby World Cup
Most recent tournament
Rugby football current event.svg 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup
2017 Rugby World Cup Womens logo.png
Sport Rugby union
Instituted6 April 1991;28 years ago (1991-04-06)
Number of teams12
RegionsWorldwide (World Rugby)
HoldersFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand (5th Title)
Most titlesFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand (5 titles)

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. [1] 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. [2]

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, widely known simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

World Rugby rugby union international governing body

World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. World Rugby organises the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport's most recognised and most profitable competition. It also organises a number of other international rugby competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, the World Under 20 Championship, and the Pacific Nations Cup.

Rugby sevens at the Summer Olympics

Rugby sevens at the Summer Olympics was played for the first time at the 2016 Summer Olympics with both men's and women's contests. Rugby sevens was added to the Olympics following the decision of the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October 2009. The champions for the inaugural rugby sevens tournament in 2016 were Fiji for the men and Australia for the women.


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. [3] It was not until the 1998 tournament held in the Netherlands that the tournament received official IRB backing. [4] The most successful team, with five titles, is New Zealand.

The 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup was the first Women's Rugby World Cup. The tournament was not approved by the International Rugby Board (IRB), yet it still went ahead despite the disapproval of the sports governing body. France confirmed their participation only minutes before the draw was made on 26 February. Representatives of the IRB, WRFU and RFU attended the final, but it was not until 2009 that the IRB officially endorsed the event as a "world cup" when it published, for the first time, a list of previous winners in a press release.

The United States women's national rugby union team was officially formed in 1987. The team is known as the Eagles.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe with some overseas territories. In Europe, it consists of twelve provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.



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.

Rugby union in New Zealand

Rugby union is the unofficial national sport of New Zealand. The national team, the All Blacks, ranks as the top international team in the world. The sport has been known in New Zealand from 1870. The top domestic competitions are the semi-professional ITM Cup and amateur Heartland Championship, and above them Super Rugby, in which New Zealand has five franchises. The country co-hosted and won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987, and hosted and won the 2011 Rugby World Cup. They are the current world champions for men and women. They are also the current World Champions in 7s rugby for men and women.

RugbyFest 1990 was a two-week festival of women's rugby, held in Christchurch, New Zealand between 19 August and 1 September 1990. The event has been inflated sometimes to the status of a mini-world cup. In reality with only four teams taking part, and lacking major nations such as France, England and Canada, it was never that. However it was still a significant step forward – the first ever world-wide multi-regional women's rugby tournament. Held only eight years after the first women's international it was a sign of how much the game had already expanded.

Netherlands womens national rugby union team

The Netherlands women's national rugby union team are a national sporting side of Netherlands, representing them at rugby union. The side first played in 1982.

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. [5] 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.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

The England women's national rugby union team first played in 1982. England were the 2014 Rugby World Cup champions after beating Canada in the final. Their coach is Simon Middleton after their coach Gary Street, who had been head coach since 2006, contract wasn't renewed. Street now coaches Harlequins Ladies.

Canada womens national rugby union team

The Canada women's national rugby union team is governed by Rugby Canada, and plays in red and black. They were ranked 5th in World Rugby's inaugural women's rankings and are currently ranked as the second best team in the world.

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. [6]

Amsterdam Capital city of the Netherlands

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, with a population of 866,737 within the city proper, 1,380,872 in the urban area, and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. Amsterdam is in the province of North Holland.

Scotland womens national rugby union team

The Scotland women's national rugby union team has competed in five of the Women's Rugby World Cups and have an important role in the rugby world stage. The governing body in Scotland for women's rugby is Scottish Rugby.Clare Cribbes was the youngest player to ever play for Scotland in a World Cup

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. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] The tournament was staged in London, with the final played at the Twickenham Stoop. [10]

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. [11] [12]

For the 2021 edition, New Zealand, will host the next Women's Rugby World Cup. [13]



YearHostFinalThird place matchNumber of teams
WinnerScoreRunner-up3rd placeScore4th place
1991 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg
Flag of the United States.svg
United States
19 – 6Flag of England.svg
Flag of France.svg
Shared [14]
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
1994 Flag of Scotland.svg
Flag of England.svg
38 – 23Flag of the United States.svg
United States
Flag of France.svg
27 – 0Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg
1998 Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
44 – 12Flag of the United States.svg
United States
Flag of England.svg
31 – 15Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
2002 Flag of Spain.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
19 – 9Flag of England.svg
Flag of France.svg
41 – 7Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
2006 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
25 – 17Flag of England.svg
Flag of France.svg
17 – 8Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
2010 Flag of England.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
13 – 10Flag of England.svg
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
22 – 8Flag of France.svg
2014 Flag of France.svg
Flag of England.svg
21 – 9Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
Flag of France.svg
25 – 18IRFU flag.svg
2017 Flag of Ireland.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand
41 – 32Flag of England.svg
Flag of France.svg
31 – 23Flag of the United States.svg
United States
2021 Flag of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand

Participating nations

Team 1991
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg
Flag of Scotland.svg
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Flag of Spain.svg
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
Flag of England.svg
Flag of France.svg
Flag of Ireland.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 5th7th7th3rd7th6thQ
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 5th6th4th4th4th6th2nd5thQ
Flag of England.svg  England 2nd1st3rd2nd2nd2nd1st2ndQ
Flag of France.svg  France 3rd3rd8th3rd3rd4th3rd3rdQ
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 14th16th
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong 12th
IRFU flag.svg  Ireland 7th10th14th8th7th4th8thQ
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 8th12th12th9th
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 11th8th13th11th
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 9th9th11th11th11th12th
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 7th13th15th
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 3rd1st1st1st1st5th1stQ
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 11th [lower-alpha 1] 11th16th
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 9th10th11th
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 5th6th6th6th8th
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 12th10th10thQ
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 6th7th8th9th9th10th
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 10th10th15th12th
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 1st2nd2nd5th5th5th6th4thQ
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 9th4th11th10th9th8th7th


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. [15] In previous tournaments teams were selected by the IRB based on international performances as opposed to qualification via regional tournaments.

Media coverage

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. [16]

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. [17]

Certain matches in the 2017 WRWC knockout phases drew strong TV viewership in England and France, and were broadcast live in the United States. [18]

See also

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  2. "Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 tender process opens" (Press release). World Rugby. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  3. IRB press release Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
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  12. "2017 Womens Rugby World Cup to be held in Ireland".
  13. 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup bidders announced - The Women's Game, 13 June 2018
  14. A third place match was played – won by France, probably by 3–0. However, the game can only be considered as "unofficial" as it was not part of the original tournament plan, and the result was not recorded in any official tournament reports. The game is also not included in NZRFU international records.
  15. "England to host Women's Rugby World Cup". rugbyheaven.co.nz. p. 1. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  16. "WRWC live on Sky!". Sky Sports. 20 August 2010.
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. "The rugby gender divide is too real", 18 September 2017.