The Rugby World Cup for women, historically known as 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 have been held every four years since the first, hosted in Wales in 1991.
On 21 August 2019, World Rugby announced that gender designations would be removed from the titles of the men’s and women’s World Cups. Accordingly, all future World Cups for men and women will officially bear the “Rugby World Cup” name. The first tournament to be affected by the new policy will be the next women’s tournament to be held in New Zealand in 2022, which will officially be titled as “Rugby World Cup 2022”.
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, which by that time had changed its name to the International Rugby Board, included the 1991 and 1994 champions in its list of previous winners. It was not until the 1998 tournament held in the Netherlands that the tournament received official IRB backing, and the IRB retroactively recognised the preceding tournaments. The most successful team, with five titles, is New Zealand.
World Rugby has announced details of a new annual global women’s 15s competition model and international playing windows that will supercharge the women’s game.
Underscoring its commitment to increase competition, commercial and fan engagement opportunities while raising competitiveness of the women’s game on the road to an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup 2025, World Rugby has launched WXV, a three-tiered annual competition model that will start in 2023.