The dates for the 2021 Rugby World Cup have been announced. The tournament will take place from September 18th to October 16th, 2021. It is the ninth time the women’s tournament will be held.
New Zealand won the right to host the Rugby World Cup finals in 2018. For the first time in the history of the women’s event, the tournament will be held in the southern hemisphere.
The Kiwis have previously hosted two iterations of the men’s tournament, the first in 1987 and the latest in 2011. In part due to the southern hemisphere placing, this will be the latest in the calendar year that the women’s tournament has taken place.
Twelve nations will compete in the tournament finals, with the teams initially split into three pools of four. The pool stage will consist of a single round-robin of six games for each pool with each pool team meeting the other once.
The draw for the pool stage will be held later this year. Pool matches will start on Saturday, September 18, 2021 and end on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. They will be held at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland and Northlands Stadium in Whangarei.
Depending on teams' positioning at the end of the pool stage, eight nations will progress to the knock out phase. The quarter-finals will occur on Sunday, October 3, 2021, again at Waitakere and Northlands.
The semi-finals will be held a week later on Sunday, October 10, 2021 at Eden Park in Auckland. The Bronze medal game and World Cup final will all take place on Saturday, October 16, 2021 also at Eden Park.
When describing the upcoming Rugby World Cup to the media, World Rugby Chairman underlined the importance of the women’s tournament:
“Women’s rugby is the single biggest opportunity to grow the global game and we are confident that New Zealand 2021 will be one of the great Rugby World Cups, attracting a new fan and player base for the sport.”
At present Canada, the United States, England, France, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand have automatically qualified. South Africa and Fiji have qualified through regional qualifiers. Three other teams will join them.
New Zealand enter the tournament as defending champions. They have won the previous five consecutive women’s world cups. The Wallaroos are currently ranked 5th worldwide.