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[note 1] 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.
Although not strictly speaking a knock-out as – in theory – a team losing a game on Day 1 could still qualify dependent on results on Day 2, in practice this was a complex tournament that is best understood by means of the following graphics. Note that this should not be taken to imply that the draw for any round of games was predetermined – each successive round was drawn using seedings and rankings based on previous matches:
^There are 16 teams at the IRB Women's World Cup 2002. They are divided into four Pools of four teams each, according to each team's seeding. For the first set of matches the highest seeded team plays the lowest seeded team whilst the two mid-seeded teams play each other. After the first round of matches the positions in each Pool are 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 play each other. The final Pool standings are 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 go 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 face each other in the 'final' whilst the losing teams play each other.From the IRB tournament guide
^Position in each pool based on a) tournament points, b) result between sides on equal ponts, and c) match points difference
^Teams were ranked according to the following criteria:
Most match points
Best points difference (points scored for minus points scored against)
Best tries difference (tries scored for minus tries scored against)
Best penalty kick difference (penalty kicks scored for minus penalty kicks scored against)