A record six countries have expressed interest in hosting the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2021, World Rugby, the sport's governing body, announced today.
Australia, England, France, New Zealand, Portugal and Wales met the 31 May deadline, and World Rugby heralded the 2017 tournament in Ireland, which was the best-attended and the most-watched to date, as the reason for the number of submissions.
The six unions have been issued with the bid documents and now have until 10 August to submit their responses. The World Rugby council will select the host of the 2021 event at its interim meeting in Dublin on 14 November.
Of the six bidders, Wales (1991), England (2010) and France (2013) have staged the Women's Rugby World Cup before. New Zealand have won five of the last six tournaments.
Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby, said: “We are delighted with the record level of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 hosting interest from unions, which reflects the significant global excitement and momentum behind the women’s game.
“Ireland 2017 was a magnificent tournament by any Rugby World Cup standards and I am sure that all six unions will be determined to raise the bar again as we look forward to a tournament that features a new format and is a proven major sporting and social driver.”
The 2021 World Cup will retain a 12-team format, but the tournament window will expand from 23 to 35 days to incorporate longer rest periods and an additional play-off stage, while squad sizes will increase by two, from 28 to 30 players.