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Changes to Womens World Cup Confirmed

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World Rugby has announced that the 2021 Women's World Cup will have Quarter-finals and classification matches scrapped.

The tournament length will also increase from 23 to 35 days to improve player welfare.

But the number of nations competing will remain at 12.

The introduction of quarter-finals is aimed at avoiding big rugby nations missing out on the knockout stages of the tournament.

As World Rugby officially opened the tender process for the 2021 tournament, general manager Katie Sadler said: "One of the issues that came out of the last two World Cups was the drop out of some of the top teams in the last few games.

"Putting that quarter-final in just gives you that opportunity to test the top teams more before you get to the semi-finals."

New Zealand failed to progress to the semi-finals in 2014, while hosts Ireland missed out in 2017 along with former finalists Canada.

At previous World Cups, countries that did not make the semi-finals have gone on to play in classification matches, but these will now be scrapped.

From 2021, countries that do not make the quarter-finals will be sent home at the end of the pool stage.

"It's the same with the men's competition - we did canvass all the top countries before making that call and they were fine with that decision," Sadler said.

"It's focused on high performance and that means the better teams will be there at the end."

There will be concerns that some of the less dominant women's rugby nations will miss out on the opportunity to play more Test rugby by scrapping the classification.

World Rugby said it was addressing the problem through its Women's Strategic Plan, which includes helping to develop and improve the offering of women's Test-level tournaments away from World Cups.

JC

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