World Rugby has overnight confirmed the recommendation to post-pone the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand till 2022.
The confirmation comes as new dates are announced with the Women's games landmark event scheduled to take place between October 8 through till November 12 in both Auckland and Whangārei.
With the ambition of super-charging the schedule for players, fans and the host nation, 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 recently approved for the men’s competition.
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 overlapping matches, meaning fans will not miss a moment of the first women’s edition of a Rugby World Cup to be hosted in the southern hemisphere.
The pool phase will be played on the weekends of 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23 October, 2022 at Eden Park, Northlands Events Centre in Whangārei and Waitakere Stadium before the quarter-finals take place on 29-30 October followed by semi-finals on Saturday, 5 November.
The bronze final and RWC 2021 final will be played on Saturday, 12 November, 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 a nod to the importance of New Zealand as the tournament, a bespoke te reo Māori version of the tournament logo has been designed. Highlighting the importance of te reo as an official language of Aotearoa, New Zealand, the competition mark signifies the desire to celebrate the unique Māori culture for all those connected with the tournament.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We [World Rugby] are fully committed to accelerating the women’s game at all levels and while the postponement was disappointing for everyone.
"However, 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 a 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.”