The 2002 Women’s Rugby World Cup was the second World Cup fully sanctioned by the sports governing body the International Rugby Board (IRB). The tournament was held in Barcelona, Spain. The format was the same as the previous tournament and again 16 nations competed.
For the first time a pre-tournament qualification match took place to decide Asia’s second representative but other than that all competitors took part by invitation. 14 of the 16 teams taking part were the same as in 1998 but two lowest ranked European teams (Sweden and Russia) were replaced by teams from Asia (Japan) and Oceania (Samoa).
The competition was won by defending champions, New Zealand.
The format was the same as the previous tournament and again 16 nations competed. The teams were divided into four pools of four teams each, according to each team’s seeding.
For the first set of matches the highest seeded team played the lowest seeded team while the two mid-seeded teams played each other. After the first round of matches the positions in each pool were recalculated with the winners of the first matches in first and second places, and the losers in third and fourth places. In the second set of matches, the top two teams and the bottom two teams from each pool played each other. The final pool standings were calculated from the results of these matches to give the final four positions in each pool.
The four top teams in each of the pools went forward to contest the World Cup title. The second placed teams from each pool play for 5th position (the Plate), the third place teams for 9th (the Bowl), and the fourth placed teams for 13th (the Shield). The four teams in each of these groups are reseeded to decide who plays who at this stage of the tournament.
The two winning teams from each of these ‘semi-finals’ then faced each other in the ‘final’, whilst the losing teams played each other.