Australia have appeared in every women’s edition of Rugby World Cup since their tournament debut in 1998. The Wallaroos have never finished lower than seventh, and until Ireland 2017, had not tasted defeat on the tournament’s final day.
We take a look back at Australia’s Rugby World Cup story.
RWC debut: 2 May, 1998 v Ireland at National Rugby Centre, Amsterdam
RWC appearances: Played 29 – Won 16, Drawn 0, Lost 13 – Points for 591, Points against 465 – Win ratio 55 per cent
Best finish: Third, 2010
Qualification for RWC 2021: Sixth place at RWC 2017
Most memorable match: Not a winning memory for Australians, but the RWC 2010 semi-final against England is the biggest match the Wallaroos have been involved in at the tournament. Early tries from Catherine Spencer and Danielle Waterman put the hosts in control, but the Wallaroos battled gamely and, inspired by an incredible try-saving tackle by Nicole Beck, spent much of the final quarter camped inside the England half. They were not quite able to breach the try line, however.
Iconic moment: The Wallaroos have only beaten France once in five meetings to date, but that victory came on arguably the biggest stage. RWC 2010 remains Australia’s best in terms of results, and the team secured third place with a four-star first-half against France. The Wallaroos rallied following an early Nicole Beck yellow card to score four tries before half-time, eventually seeing out a 22-8 victory.
Low point: Narrowly beaten by hosts Ireland on day one at RWC 2017, Australia went into their next match with France with confidence but were totally outplayed by a rampant Les Bleues side who displayed an irresistible combination of attacking verve and deadly opportunism. The Wallaroos had no answer, Shannon Izar completing her hat-trick within 25 minutes before France ran out dominant 48-0 winners.
Iconic player: Sharni Williams (pictured) was an ever-present in the Wallaroos midfield during the team’s campaigns at England 2010, France 2014 and Ireland 2017. A powerful runner, the Olympic gold medallist chipped in with seven tries across those three tournaments.
Did you know? Three of Australia’s bronze-medal winning RWC 2010 squad went on to win gold at the Olympic Games in 2016. Nicole Beck, Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams all played in both England and Rio.
Quote: “Back in 2010 my first Rugby World Cup in London, it was amateur but it was still so mind-blowing for me at the time. As a 21-year-old it was so exciting to be a part of.” – Rebecca Clough reflects on playing at RWC 2010 in England