Women's Rugby World Cup 2025: When and where is it taking place?

Rugby World Cup launch at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland launches the 2025 Women's Rugby World Cup at the Stadium of Light - Stu Forster/World Rugby via Getty Images

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light will host the opening match of the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

England’s Red Roses will kick-off the tournament in the city’s 49,000-seater football stadium on Friday Aug 22 in what is expected to be the most watched World Cup in the history of the female game.

Twickenham will host the final on Sept 27, with organisers targeting a sell-out at the home of English rugby in what would be a watershed moment for the women’s game.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said he hoped England 2025 would “engage and inspire new audiences in ways that rugby events have not done before”.

Stuart Andrew, the sports minister, described Sunderland’s stadium as the “perfect opening act” for women rugby’s showpiece event. Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “The last few years have seen a massive surge of interest in women’s rugby and women’s sport in general, so having the opportunity to cheer on the Red Roses in a World Cup match so close to home is brilliant news for sports fans across the North East.

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for our city and our region to shine on the international stage and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming fans from across the world when the biggest ever celebration of women’s rugby kicks off in Sunderland in August 2025.”

Which teams have already qualified for the 2025 Women’s World Cup?

England, Canada, France and New Zealand have already qualified for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 after finishing in the top four at last year’s tournament in New Zealand. Scotland, Wales and Ireland are all yet to secure their place at the tournament.

WXV, the global competition which launched in October, along with other regional competitions will act as qualifying events for the remaining positions. A total of 16 teams will take part in the tournament – an increase from the 12 nations that took part in last year’s World Cup in New Zealand.

Which cities are hosting the tournament?

Eight cities across England will stage the tournament. In a measure of the Rugby Football Union’s ambition to spread the game around the country, York, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter and Northampton will all host matches.

Four of the venues are already home to English rugby teams, including Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate, Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens, Exeter Chiefs’ Sandy Park and Sale Sharks at the Salford Community Stadium (commonly known as AJ Bell Stadium).

Why has Sunderland been chosen to host the opening match?

Sunderland is hardly a city synonymous with rugby union – there is no top-flight women’s rugby side north of Manchester after Sale – and England’s Red Roses have never played there.

But the England 2025 organising committee is on a mission to make the 2025 Women’s World Cup as accessible to fans as possible.

As the second biggest venue behind Twickenham, the 49,000-seater Stadium of Light is also the optimum size to target a capacity crowd for the opening match of the tournament.

When can I watch the Red Roses next?

England are next in action in the Six Nations, which gets underway on Mar 24. The Red Roses will be aiming for a fifth consecutive title but it will be their first under new head coach John Mitchell.