Women’s Rugby World Cup

The numbers behind the Women’s Rugby World Cup

With the ninth edition of the Women’s Rugby World Cup due to take place in New Zealand, we’ve taken a look at the numbers behind the previous tournaments.

A delay until October and November 2022 is not expected to affect the excitement generated by this great spectacle.

How does the tournament work?

The competition has been staged roughly every four years since its inception in 1991, although the delay to the 2021 tournament won’t be the first time the pattern has been broken.

The current format sees 12 teams qualify, with the best seven performers from the previous tournament joined by the winners of five regional qualifiers.

In the initial pool stage, the teams are divided into three groups of four, who play each other once.

Four points are awarded for a win and two for a draw, with a bonus point going to a team who either score at least four tries in a match or loses by fewer than eight points.

The top two teams in each pool – plus the two best-performing third-placed teams – progress to the knockout stage.

The remaining eight teams then contest a standard single-legged knockout bracket, from quarter-finals through to the final, with the losing semi-finalists contesting a third-place play-off.

How do this year’s teams compare?

Five of the eight tournaments to date have been won by New Zealand, so the host nation will surely be fancied to win it again this time around.

Their main challengers could be England, who have always finished in the top three. However, while the English team has reached seven finals, they have only triumphed in two of them.

France usually make the latter stages, having reached seven semi-finals out of a possible eight, but have never advanced to the final.

How important is the pool stage?

All eight winners of the tournament to date – and seven of the eight losing finalists – won their pool, suggesting that early matches are a good indicator of eventual success.

Furthermore, only one of the 29 pool winners to date failed to reach the final four, when France were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Canada back in 1998.

Who has the best head-to-head record?

Over the last three World Cups, New Zealand have won all 11 of their matches against the other six teams who have qualified automatically for this tournament.

None of the others have even won two thirds of theirs, while Wales have lost all nine of their encounters in this period.

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