The dates for the Women’s Rugby World Cup have been announced, with the showpiece kicking off on 8 October to 12 November 2022 in New Zealand.
The tournament, which was initially scheduled for September 2021, was pushed back due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
It will be the South African women’s first appearance on rugby’s biggest stage since 2014, with the event set to play out at Eden Park and the Waitakere Stadium in Auckland and the Northlands Events Centre in Whangārei.
The event will also feature increased rest periods, with World Rugby announcing that the tournament will see the event extended from 35 to 43 days, accommodating five rest days in between matches.
The adapted competition format, which is expected to super-charge the schedule for players and fans alike, aligns with the approach recently approved for the men’s competition. These changes also allowed for a revamped tournament that will see all the matches take place on Saturdays and Sundays, with no matches during the week.
Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer and SA Rugby’s High Performance Manager for Women’s rugby, Lynne Cantwell, emphasised the importance of effective planning following the announcement on Tuesday evening.
“It is very good news to know that the Rugby World Cup dates have now been confirmed and it will certainly benefit us in terms of clarity in our planning,” said Raubenheimer.
“The fact that the tournament has been extended, which will see all matches being played over weekends, will also serve as a good opportunity for us from a recovery point of view.
“This will help us put all the puzzle pieces in place to ensure that we will be ready to perform on this world stage.”
Cantwell was equally pleased about the announcement and said: “We are delighted that there are confirmed dates, although we vaguely projected that it would be in this window.
“Certainty for athletes and the management team is a huge factor psychologically, and from a planning point of view as we can reverse roadmap back from that,” she added.
On the recovery period between matches, Cantwell added: “This enables five days recovery between each game, and it will be excellent from a sponsorship point of view, as sponsors can hopefully activate more because the games will be on weekends.
“Over and above this, it marks another big step in terms of the robust structure which mirrors that of the men’s World Cup, which is obviously a professional set-up. It is a sign of the direction the women’s game is going in.
“The weekend games and having a full recovery also definitely speaks to the athlete welfare piece that we are connected to in the women’s game.”
The pool phase will be played on the weekends of 8/9, 15/16 and 22/23 October, while the final stages will kick off with the quarter-finals on the weekend of 29/30 October, followed by semi-finals on Saturday 5 November, and the bronze final and final on Saturday, 12 November.
The match schedule and broadcast times will be announced in due course.