Women’s Rugby World Cup to be expanded to 16 teams from 2025

2021 tournament in New Zealand will have 12 teams before four more are added in 2025

New Zealand are the defending Rugby World Cup champions, after lifting the trophy in Belfast in 2017. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

The number of teams participating in the women’s Rugby World Cup will be increased from 12 to 16 from the 2025 edition, the sport’s governing body announced on Monday.

The decision was taken by the Rugby World Cup Board earlier this year and World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said it was a “milestone moment” for the women’s game.

“In 2017 we set out an ambitious eight-year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby ... and an ambition to improve and expand the number of teams competing in pinnacle events,” Beaumont said in a statement.

“We have seen in recent years that more teams are making a statement at international level and unions are continuing to develop their women?s high-performance programmes.


“Expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens additional... playing pathway opportunities for unions at the highest level of the game and creates added incentive for unions worldwide to continue to invest and grow in their women’s programmes.”

The 2021 World Cup, the ninth edition since the inaugural tournament in 1991, will be held in New Zealand from September 18th-October 16th.

New Zealand are the defending champions after winning their fifth title, with Ireland yet to confirm their place at the tournament.

The host selection process for the 2025 edition begins in February 2021 and is set to conclude in May 2022 with a council vote.