Throwback Thursday: Creation of WRWC

It took nearly 20 years of deliberations before World Rugby – then International Rugby Football Union – voted to create an international competition for the men’s national teams of the world. Australia and New Zealand, two of the biggest proponents of what is now the Rugby World Cup, were awarded joint-hosting rights for the first event.

Three years following the 1987 World Cup, several nations – including Canada and New Zealand – considered their women’s programs, and asked to join France, Great Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands at the Women’s European Cup. The first incarnation had been held in France in 1988, and the growth of the game worldwide warranted increased participation. Women’s Rugby Football Union, overseeing the European competition as well as clubs across the British Isles, announced the establishment of the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Japan, Spain, and Sweden, with Great Britain separated into England and Wales squads, confirmed their involvement. The United States, to which the Women’s Rugby World Cup Committee attributed much of the success of the early growth of the women’s game, also agreed to travel across the pond.

Though not officially recognized by the world’s governing body, the Committee planned for the inaugural WRWC to be staged in Wales in April of 1991. The men’s event would also partly be held in the U.K. between England and Wales in October, with a Final at Twickenham Stadium. Matches were scheduled for local club grounds along the southern coast from Cardiff to Swansea, while the Welsh capital served as the site for the knockout stages.

Funding for the tournament was lacking. The Soviet Union had its own financial issues in attending the World Cup, but the event itself was missing meaningful sponsorship. Despite this, 12 teams traveled to Wales to play in the world’s pinnacle event for women’s rugby April 6-14, 1991.

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