World Rugby, formerly known as the International Rugby Board, says the top seven teams from the 2014 competition — champion England, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, U.S. and Australia — are confirmed for the 2017 tournament.
The remaining five teams will be determined through qualification to include:
— The two best-ranked 6 Nations Women's teams (outside of those teams already qualified) from the combined results of the 2015 and 2016 Women's 6 Nations tournaments.
— The winner of a home-and-away playoff match between the lowest-ranked side in the Women's 6 Nations (combined 2015 and 2016 results and outside of the teams already qualified) and the Rugby Europe women's champion.
— The two best-ranked teams from a final qualifying tournament featuring South Africa, one team from Oceania and two teams from Asia.
A decision on tournament host will be made in May 2015.
The Women's World Cup, which was won by England by a 21-9 score over Canada in Paris in August, will move to 2017 "to maximize synergy with the Olympic and Rugby World Cup Sevens cycles," according to World Rugby. The event will return to a four-year cycle after 2017.