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(The next WRWC will be played in 2017 and NOT in 2018, so as not to compete with the Sevens Women's World Championship scheduled for 2018.)
As the glow dims from 2014’s successful Women’s Rugby World Cup, it’s time to consider what changes might be implemented for the next event in 2017.
Clearly, the key decision is whether the IRB will expand the twelve-team, three pools of four nations, to sixteen teams and four pools of four teams each.
This decision will be based on the probable expansion globally of women’s rugby, and on the premise that a larger tournament will generate increased attendance revenues, and, also, greater television coverage.
The prospect of expansion would facilitate an eight-team quarter finals, doubling the chances of teams to make the final. In this format, it would be almost a certainty that the USA would be in the final eight.
Currently, two teams that could be added easily are Scotland and Italy, which both compete in the annual European Six Nations Championship. Where the other two teams might emerge is anyone’s guess. In Asia, there are Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, which all lost to Kazakhstan in knock-out play. In any case, the new chosen four will be low ranking and the scores would be astronomical against the leading nations.
Had this format been in play in 2014 (assuming four new nations played), then the eight to move forward would have been England, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, USA, Australia, and Wales. In essence, the Black Ferns (even with a Pool loss) would have qualified.