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Women's Rugby World Cup to expand to 16 teams from 2025

The Women’s Rugby World Cup has announced that it will increase the number of participating teams from 12 to 16 from 2025.

The Rugby World Cup board revealed that they made the decision earlier this year as part of their commitment to globally develop the women’s game through a strategic plan until 2025.

Women’s Rugby has seen record growth in recent years, sparking World Rugby’s passion to capitalise on its increasing popularity, which now sees 28 per cent of the global playing community made up by young girls and women.

It has been theorised that by increasing the number of participating teams, it will allow for more global competitiveness on the international stage and provide greater exposure to the women’s team in their respective countries.

“Women's rugby is the single greatest opportunity to grow the sport globally,” said Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman.

“In 2017 we set out an ambitious eight-year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby, with a core pillar focussing on high-performance competition and an ambition to improve and expand the number of teams competing in pinnacle events.

“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.

“This is a milestone moment for the women's game, expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens additional aspirational and inspirational 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 tournament will be the ninth of its kind for Women’s rugby and will be held in New Zealand between September 18 and October 21 in Auckland and Whangārei, making it the first World Cup held in the southern hemisphere.

Author: Jake Wilkin