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IRB unveils changes for Women’s Rugby World Cup

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced the Women’s World Cup will take place every four years from 2017 as part of a three-point plan designed to grow the flagship national team tournament.

Rugby union enters the Olympics at Rio 2016 and this new position in the calendar for the Women’s World Cup means the sport’s leading players will be able to compete at the Olympics, World Cup and IRB Rugby Sevens events.

Additionally, the tournament will be capped at 12 teams following a streamlined qualification process to ensure a high level of competition.

Rugby World Cup Limited chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Women's rugby is one of the world's fastest growing team sports with an unprecedented 1.5 million women and girls participating across every continent. At the forefront of the phenomenal growth are our flagship women's 15s and sevens events and we are committed to ensuring that Women's Rugby World Cup is cemented as one of the prestige properties in women's sport."

IRB Rugby Committee member Cheryl Soon said: "The Women's Rugby World Cup is a fantastic event and this announcement is great news for the game. It's a long-term commitment to the women's game, which is growing at a record speed. To enhance that, we need to support the development of the game and get the schedule right. This will allow the top players to compete in the Olympics, the Women's Rugby World Cup and then the Rugby World Cup Sevens, if they choose to. The top players can take part in the top events."

The revamped qualification criteria for the 2017 and 2021 tournaments will be announced in due course. This next edition of the Women’s Rugby World Cup will be contested in France from August 1-17 this year.