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Rugby: Women's World Cup to be expanded to 16 teams from 2025

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: England v New Zealand 2010 IRB Women's Rugby World Cup Final

(Reuters) - The number of teams participating in the women's Rugby World Cup will be increased from 12 to 16 from the 2025 edition, the sport's governing body announced on Monday.

The decision was taken by the Rugby World Cup Board earlier this year and World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said it was a "milestone moment" for the women's game.

"In 2017 we set out an ambitious eight-year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby ... and an ambition to improve and expand the number of teams competing in pinnacle events," Beaumont said in a statement.

"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.

"Expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens additional... 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 World Cup, the ninth edition since the inaugural tournament in 1991, will be held in New Zealand from Sept. 18-Oct. 16. New Zealand are the defending champions after winning their fifth title.

The host selection process for the 2025 edition begins in February 2021 and is set to conclude in May 2022 with a council vote.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Eediting by Ken Ferris)