Women's World Cup to expand in 2025

World Rugby has confirmed that the women’s edition of the World Cup will expand from 12 to 16 teams from 2025.

The landmark decision, taken by the Rugby World Cup board earlier this year, reflects World Rugby’s commitment to accelerating the development of the women’s game globally through its transformational women’s strategic plan 2017-25.

With women’s rugby interest and participation going from strength to strength, the decision supports a core pillar of the plan in increasing the global competitiveness of women’s international rugby, providing the opportunity for more teams to be more competitive on the biggest stages.

Women’s rugby has experienced record growth in recent years, with women and girls now accounting for 28% of the global playing population.

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

'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,' he added. '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.'