Following the success of the Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland last year, the competition will undergo a number of changes to enhance the event in 2021.

The changes, signed off by the Rugby World Cup Board, included the addition of a quarterfinal stage, larger squad sizes and longer rest periods between matches.

World Rugby announced the updates to the competition on Thursday as part of the launch of their selection process for the 2021 host nation.

The 12-team format will remain in the short term while World Rugby focuses on increasing the competitiveness of the 15s game through the competitions and high performance strands of the women's plan.


The revised schedule would see the competition window increase from 23 days to 25. Teams would get four days between pool matches, and five or six between playoff games, and the addition of a quarterfinal would allow nations to compete for a higher position.

Squad sizes would also be increased from 28 players to 30 following feedback from teams and players.

"We want to keep building the momentum, which is why we are introducing these changes to the format for the 2021 process," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said. "By ensuring an even more competitive and exciting tournament in the future, women's rugby can continue to play an instrumental role in driving forward the development of the game and significantly broadening rugby's global fan base."

The 2017 competition had 45 million video views, and a total reach of more than 70 million throughout the five match days. More than 750,000 fans from 230 countries and territories also visited the official website, setting new records for engagement of the multi-language content for a Women's Rugby World Cup.

A statement released by World Rugby said in line with its Women's Plan 2017-25, World Rugby is determined to further the impact of its flagship women's tournament, with the format amendments expected to boost the experience for both players and fans.