Rugby World Cup 2021: An American’s Primer

Rugby World Cup 2021 is on its way. Finally.

After being delayed a year due to the global COVID pandemic, the women of the rugby world are ready for their time in the spotlight down in New Zealand. We’ll get you all caught up on the format below.


Like the men’s World Cup, the women’s edition features both a pool stage and a knockout stage. Unlike the men’s competition, the women’s will feature only 12 teams in 2021 whereas the men feature 20 teams. (The women’s competition will expand to 16 sides in 2025.)

Pool Stage

Pool APool BPool C
New ZealandCanadaEngland
Wales ItalySouth Africa

The initial phase of the competition will see each team play a round robin against all other sides in their pool. The top two sides in each pool and the two third place sides with the highest table points total will qualify for the knock outs.

Knock Out Stage

With 8 of the 12 sides advancing, the knock out will include three rounds. Its single elimination from there, but there’s plenty for all quarter-finalists to play for. Semi-finalists will qualify directly for RWC 2025 in England, so every team will be one win away from a prize in the Round of 8.

How to Watch

The NBC family of networks will carry RWC 2021 in the USA. With only six pool games per round, games will be loaded into the weekends (3 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday). Round of 8 games will also be split between Saturday and Sunday, while Semi-finals and Finals will be held on Saturdays.


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