With the Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw using the World Rugby Women’s Rankings for the first time to determine seedings, we’ll have to wait until the knockout stages until the very least before the most played fixture in the tournament’s history gets the chance of another airing.
England and Canada have been metaphorically joined at the hip since the tournament’s inception in 1991, playing each other a record six times. But the RWC 2014 finalists find themselves in the top band of seeds for the ninth edition of the game’s showpiece event and, therefore, will be drawn apart in the pool stage.
The first Rugby World Cup meeting between the two teams came in 1994, the year England claimed the first of their two titles, with the Red Roses winning 24-10 in Galashiels, Scotland.
Further fixtures followed at the next four tournaments, in 1998, 2002, 2006, and twice again – including the final in Paris – in 2014. England racked up a half-century of points in the 1998 and 2002 wins but were pushed hard by the then hosts when they met in Edmonton in 2006. England won 20-14.
Canada stopped the losing run in drawing 13-13 in the pool stages at France 2014, but an Emily Scarratt-inspired England produced the goods when it mattered eight days later, at the Stade Jean Bouin, to lift the trophy for a second time.
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While another instalment of Canada versus England is not on the agenda, for now, the North Americans could meet France for a record-equalling sixth time at a Rugby World Cup after Les Bleues were placed in the second band of seeds, along with Australia and the USA, two more old adversaries with five past tournament encounters behind them.
If Canada and France are drawn together, it will bring back memories of the epic RWC 2014 semi-final between the teams when Magali Harvey – named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year at the end of the tournament – converted her own try and kicked two penalties to break French hearts.
Assa Koita scored late on for Les Bleues but Sandrine Agricole missed the conversion that would have taken the game into extra-time. Canada closed out the match in the final two minutes to win 18-16.
History suggests that a sixth meeting between England and New Zealand is on the cards, not as pool opponents, due to their band one seeding, but in the knockout stages.
England and the Black Ferns have played each other five times at a Rugby World Cup, and not surprisingly given their track records in the competition, four of those came in the final. New Zealand have won all five of these previous meetings.
Having been seeded sixth and placed in the second band, USA stand a good chance of facing either New Zealand or England, teams they have previously met five times at a Rugby World Cup.
Should Ireland make it through the European regional qualification tournament, a record-equalling sixth fixture between themselves and the Women’s Eagles is also possible.
Taking the nine teams that have confirmed their place at New Zealand 2021 into account, there is a very good chance that a new Rugby World Cup rivalry will be created next year.
Canada have played South Africa three times in tests since the first meeting in 2009 but never at a Rugby World Cup. For Fiji, all the rivalries will be new, as they are competing in their first tournament and have never played any of the qualified teams before.
Meanwhile, the final throes of the qualification process could also throw up some first-time match-ups, depending on which of the teams book their ticket to the eagerly-awaited event.
Intriguingly, for two countries so steeped in tradition, England and Wales have never met before at a Rugby World Cup, and the same is true of another Six Nations fixture: France versus Italy.
Italy have not confirmed their place yet at RWC 2021 and will face Scotland, Ireland and the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship winner – Spain, the Netherlands or Russia – to determine the European qualifier once a new date is confirmed for this event.
Watch the live draw
To discover who their favourite team is playing, fans can tune into World Rugby’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw Show, hosted by leading rugby presenters Elma Smit and Ugo Monye.
The show, which will be live-streamed across World Rugby digital channels, will give fans exclusive behind-the-scenes access from the draw and feature player interviews from participating nations, before and after the main event.