The 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup (officially IRB Rugby World Cup 2006 Canada) took place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The tournament began on 31 August and ended on 17 September 2006. The 2006 tournament was the third World Cup approved by the IRB, the previous two being held 2002 in Spain and in the Netherlands, in 1998. The Black Ferns of New Zealand won the 2006 World Cup, defeating England in the final, as they had in 2002. It was New Zealand’s third successive title.
The semi-finals were also direct repeats of the 2002 tournament – in fact five of the top six places in the final rankings were unchanged. Elsewhere the USA advanced from 7th in 2002 to 5th, and Ireland climbed from 14th to 8th while Australia (5th to 7th), Spain (8th to 9th), and Samoa (9th to 10th) slipped down.
The period prior to the competition had not been without controversy. The decision to award the hosting of the competition to Canada ahead of a strong bid from England surprised many.
In addition – apart from in Asia – there were no qualifying tournaments for the 2006 World Cup. Instead teams were invited to take part by the IRB with selection based on performances at the World Cup in 2002 and in international matches between 2002 and 2005. This resulted in accusations of a lack of clarity in regard to some selection decisions. In particular the awarding of the final place in the tournament to Samoa instead of Wales (following a poor performance by Wales in the 2005 Six Nations) was the cause of some controversy and comment prior to the event.