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Revised dates set for New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup

World Rugby has announced that New Zealand will now host the postponed 2021 Rugby World Cup (RWC) more than one year after it was initially scheduled, following confirmation of a new masterplan for the women’s tournament.

In March, World Rugby announced it would postpone the 2021 RWC until next year due to ongoing concerns over the “uncertain and challenging” global COVID-19 situation. The rugby union showpiece was due to be held from September 18 to October 16, but has now been granted a fresh position in the calendar of October 8 to November 12, 2022.

With the ambition of “super-charging” the schedule for players, fans and the host nation, World Rugby said the tournament window, including preparation ahead of the first match, will be extended from 35 to 43 days resulting in all teams having a minimum of five rest days between matches. This aligns with the approach announced in February for the men’s 2023 RWC in France.

The extension of the tournament window also allows for a revamped tournament format that will see all matches take place on Saturdays and Sundays, with no overlap. With the tournament starting later in the year, World Rugby said players and fans will benefit from warmer weather and longer daylight hours.

Organisers in January revealed plans to break the attendance record for the tournament after the original match schedule was confirmed. New Zealand was awarded hosting rights to the event in November 2018 and in February 2020 it was announced the World Cup would be held at three stadia – Waitakere Stadium in Henderson, Whangārei’s Northland Events Centre and Auckland’s Eden Park.

Under the newly-announced plan, the pool phase will be played on the weekends of October 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23, 2022 at Eden Park, Northlands Events Centre and Waitakere Stadium. The quarter-finals will take place on October 29-30 followed by semi-finals on November 5. The bronze final and final will be played on November 12, with Eden Park set to create history by becoming the first stadium to host both the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup finals.

In addition to the revised tournament dates, World Rugby has also unveiled new tournament brandmarks retaining reference to 2021, the year the tournament was originally intended to take place, while conveying to fans and audiences that the tournament will now be played in 2022. A bespoke te reo Māori version of the new brandmark has been designed for tournament promotion in New Zealand.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We are fully committed to accelerating the women’s game at all levels and while the postponement was disappointing for everyone, it has provided the unique opportunity to review every aspect of the event to ensure it is the best it can be for the players, fans around the world and the wonderful and enthusiastic New Zealanders.

“Longer rest periods between matches for all teams is further commitment to delivering comprehensive player welfare standards at RWC 2021. I would like to thank all stakeholders for their support and open-minded approach to this process and we can now look forward to a truly spectacular Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022.”

Rugby World Cup 2021 tournament director, Michelle Hooper, added: “We are delighted that together with World Rugby we have been able to further super-charge the women’s game here in New Zealand with the confirmation of the new dates in 2022 and the amendments to the tournament format. We are excited to be hosting Rugby World Cup here in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“The momentum for women’s sport is continuously building and we look forward to demonstrating this to the world through the unstoppable energy that will be on display during Rugby World Cup in 2022. We can’t wait to welcome the world’s best women’s rugby players to our shores and share the Manaakitanga so intrinsically linked to our people and our place and rugby in Aotearoa, New Zealand with them and their fans.”