The 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup was the sixth edition of the Women’s Rugby World Cup and was being held in England. The International Rugby Board Executive Committee selected the host union following a recommendation from the Rugby World Cup Limited board after considering bids from the Rugby Football Union and the German Rugby Union – it had been England’s third successive bid after being rejected in 2002 and 2006. The tournament was again being organised by the International Rugby Board (IRB) as opposed to the host union, and included five matches for all teams played on 20, 24, 28 August and 1 and 5 September. In May 2009 it was announced that the semi final, 3rd place play off and final would take place at The Stoop and not Twickenham as had previously been suggested. Pool games were held at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.
Interest in the tournament was far higher than had been anticipated. It was broadcast to 127 countries and all 2,500 seats at the opening two days of pool games were sold out, as was the third day despite the capacity being raised to 3,200. The semi-finals attracted over 6,000 spectators, while the final drew a crowd of 13,253 – a world record for a women’s rugby international – and well as a worldwide TV audience of (according to IRB figures) half a million.
The competition was won by New Zealand who beat England 13–10 in the final.
Three tries from the tournament were shortlisted for the IRB’s “Try of the Year” award.
When the winning bid to host the World Cup was announced in September 2008, Bernard Lapasset (Rugby World Cup Limited Board Chairman) promised that:
“These two tournaments [the Sevens and XVs World Cups], in conjunction with a global qualification process and existing tournament structures, will guarantee an unprecedented level of elite Women’s competition for around 90 Unions over the next two years. This expanded competition pathway underpinned by the Women’s Strategic Plan point to what promises to be the most competitive Women’s Rugby World Cup ever in 2010”.
However, when details of the qualification process were released in March 2009 it was revealed that most IRB members would not be given an opportunity to compete for a place. Qualification tournaments took place in two regions – Europe and Asia – while in Oceania two nations played off in a single game for one place. Elsewhere the IRB nominated the “qualifying” nation, all other nations in these regions were excluded. Even where qualification tournaments took place the majority of rugby playing countries did not take part.
No official explanation was given by the IRB, but at the time of the Oceania qualifier it was reported that the non-participation of some nations – including Fiji and Papua New Guinea – was due to financial difficulties.
The process was: