Become a member of Eden Park Find out more

Everything you need to know about Rugby World Cup 2021

Oct 3, 2022
We give you the lowdown on the showpiece tournament.

The wait for Rugby World Cup 2021 is almost over. With only five days to go until the tournament gets underway, teams have been welcomed to New Zealand and excitement is building.

Hosts New Zealand head into RWC 2021 as defending champions and on a high, having beaten Japan 95-12 at Eden Park in their final warm-up for the delayed showpiece.

RWC 2017 runners-up England, meanwhile, are the in-form team in world rugby and secured a record 25th consecutive test victory last month, beating Wales 73-7 in Bristol.

They are among the teams who will hope to navigate a path to the final, which will be played at Eden Park on 12 November.

Ahead of what promises to be a pulsating five weeks on New Zealand’s North Island, we give you the lowdown on RWC 2021.


Yes. On Monday, the 12 competing teams, match officials and global rugby family were officially welcomed to the country by Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, Governor-General of New Zealand, at a ceremony in Auckland.

Kiro said: “It’s an honour to welcome rugby’s finest wāhine toa (women champions) from around the world to Aotearoa (New Zealand) for this hugely anticipated Rugby World Cup.

“I know the wonderful communities in Auckland and Whangārei will get behind the games and make this a World Cup to remember.”

Hosted by broadcaster Rikki Swannell, the ceremony began with an official cultural welcome to the teams, before the captain of each side and a representative of the match officials was invited onto the stage and presented with a participation medal and cap.

New Zealand co-captain Ruahei Demant said: “It’s a huge honour for us to host this tournament, it’s very special. Thinking back to 2011 when we hosted the men’s World Cup and how much that inspired the nation, we hope that this World Cup can do the same for many New Zealanders and that our country can get out and support the teams.”

England captain Sarah Hunter said: “It’s special to be here. We’ve been waiting a long time and the welcome we’ve had has been absolutely incredible. Hearing that over 30,000 fans are coming to watch on the opening day is incredible and thanks to the work that’s gone on in New Zealand to get behind this tournament so we can showcase just how ready we are to play. Every team is ready to go and we can’t wait for that opening day on Saturday.”

Fiji captain Sereima Leweniqila said: “We are grateful to be here. It has been a journey, we’ve been through some tough times just to be here so we are just grateful and ready to get out there.”


RWC 2021 will kick off at the iconic Eden Park on 8 October, when South Africa take on France in Pool C. Following that match, England face Fiji before cross-Tasman rivals New Zealand and Australia bring the curtain down on matchday one.

Attention will switch to the Northland Events Centre the following day and the stadium in Whangarei will host nine matches during the pool stage and the first two quarter-finals on 29 October.

Six pool stage matches will be played at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland, which will also stage the second two quarter-finals on 30 October.

Both semi-finals on 5 November and the bronze final and final a week later will all be played at Eden Park.


Seven teams made sure of their place in New Zealand with their performance at RWC 2017, including the hosts, who won the tournament in Belfast.

Runners-up England, France, the USA, Canada, Australia and Wales also made sure of qualification in Ireland.

Four further teams – Japan, Fiji, Italy and South Africa – booked their tickets to New Zealand through regional qualifying, while Scotland became the 12th and final nation to confirm their place when they won the Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai earlier this year.


The 12 competing nations have been drawn into three pools, with the pool-stage matches being played across six matchdays between 8-23 October.

Whoever finishes first and second in each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-placed teams.

The quarter-finals will be played on 29 and 30 October, with the winners advancing to the semi-finals, which will both be played at Eden Park on 5 November.

Seven days later, the eyes of the rugby world will once again be on the famous stadium in Auckland as the destiny of the trophy is decided.


Yes, all 12 competing nations have named their squads for the tournament.

Seven members of the Black Ferns squad were part of the team that won RWC 2017, while England’s contains six players who won RWC 2014.

Check out all 12 squads, here.


You can buy tickets for RWC 2021 from the official site, here.

Tickets are priced from NZ$5 for children and NZ$10 for adults.


RWC 2017 got underway in Dublin with a big win for the defending champions England. Kay Wilson scored four of the Red Roses’ 10 tries in a 56-5 defeat of Spain at the UCD Bowl.

England would go on to top Pool B, beating the USA 47-26 in the decisive match, and then won 20-3 against France in the semi-final.

The Black Ferns had topped Pool A and were pitted against the USA in the semi-finals. Portia Woodman crossed the whitewash four times to help New Zealand to a 45-12 win.

In the final at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, Toka Natua scored a hat-trick of tries as the Black Ferns came from 17-10 down at half-time to win 41-32 and claim their fifth title.


Portia Woodman ended RWC 2017 as the tournament’s top try-scorer with 13, including eight against Hong Kong in the pool stage.

Woodman’s haul was more than double her closest challengers. Team-mate Selica Winiata, and Canada’s Magali Harvey and Elissa Alarie each scored six times.

Her 65 points were also the most scored by any player at RWC 2017, three more than Black Ferns colleague Kendra Cocksedge.

England’s Emily Scarratt ended the tournament with 56 points, while Magali Harvey also reached a half-century, finishing RWC 2017 with 51 points.


The inaugural women’s Rugby World Cup was played across eight days in South Wales in April 1991.

New Zealand and the USA both topped their pools and met in the first semi-final at Cardiff Arms Park, Women’s Eagles captain Barb Bond scoring the decisive try to send her team to the final.

England provided the opposition, having beaten France in the second semi-final. Gill Burns then converted a penalty try to give the English a 6-0 lead in the first half of the final.

However, the USA replied with three tries after half-time, through Clare Godwin (two) and Patty Connell, to claim a 19-6 win and become the first women’s Rugby World Cup champions.


New Zealand did not compete at the second women’s Rugby World Cup in 1994, which was won by England, but returned four years later to win their first title – beating the USA in the final.

That was the start of a remarkable run of dominance for the Black Ferns, who won four Rugby World Cups in a row between 1998-2010.

England won their second title at RWC 2014, beating Canada 21-9 in the final. Five years ago, the Black Ferns claimed their fifth Rugby World Cup with a 42-31 defeat of England in the final in Belfast.