The 2023 Tag World Cup took place from Tuesday 1st to Saturday 5th August at University of Limerick, Ireland with Great Britain crowned World Champions in the Women’s 30s amongst their best ever medal haul at the ITF’s flagship event.

Great Britain entered eight of the 13 World Cup categories, winning one gold, two silver and three bronze medals with all eight teams finishing in the top four of their competition. Four of the teams – Women’s Open, Women’s 35s, Mixed Seniors and Men’s 40s – medalled on their World Cup debut as the programme entered double the number of teams as in 2018. GB achieved particular success across the Women’s categories, securing a medal of each colour across the three teams.

The gold medal for Women’s 30s comes five years after a number of the side won bronze and Great Britain’s first ever World Cup medal at Coffs Harbour. They broke further ground this year, becoming the first GB team to beat an Australian side in a World Cup, a feat they would have to repeat in the final. 

They secured their path to the gold medal game by finishing as the top ranked team at the end of the category’s round robin, meaning they skipped the semi-final stage. Australia defeated Ireland to meet them there but despite a 1-1 record between GB and Australia earlier in the competition the British side proved a class apart from their antipodean rivals and dispatched them in style to claim the title of World Champions with a 5-1 scoreline.

After the final whistle captain Phoebe Robins summed up the team’s feelings: “It’s an absolutely unbelievable feeling, I played when Australia toured the UK in 2013 and they beat us about 40-0 – I’m not exaggerating that! To come here after the 2018 World Cup where we won bronze and now to back it up with a gold is incredible. I’m absolutely ecstatic.”

Head coach, Mark Roughsedge, added: “In 2018 we were elated to win bronze, and the reality is that since then we have had about 50-60 players be part of where we are today, and as a team, we have talked about this win being far beyond the squad that got picked for the World Cup. I can’t put it into words how it feels. It’s been an outstanding journey and you can see how happy the girls are – I’m delighted for them.”

Great Britain Women’s Open had also reached the final of their category having won six out of seven round robin games and their loss to Australia coming by only a single point. They did this despite five different top line players missing matches through injury during the tournament and  played out an incredibly tense semi-final against New Zealand, scoring in the first minute and then holding onto their single point lead for the remaining breathless 39. They ultimately came up just short against Australia in the final, ending their campaign with a silver medal and the honour of being the first GB Opens side to reach a World Cup final.

Women’s 35s started their World Cup strongly with an emphatic win over France before a loss to Australia and a draw against Ireland. They would meet the Irish again in the semi-final with the two teams once again unable to be separated at full-time. The match progressed to drop-off in the wettest and windiest conditions of the week in which the Irish were able to claim the match winning try. Great Britain picked themselves up however to bounce back the following morning and claim the programme’s first medal of the tournament, beating Alliance to bronze just 133 days after the team’s first training session.

Mixed Seniors came to the World Cup after two consecutive British & Irish series losses by the barest of margins. This left the side determined to leave nothing on the field and after an uncharacteristic mistake held them to a draw against Alliance they were spurred into an incredible run of results, beating New Zealand, Australia and New Zealand Exiles and securing a semi-final spot. The win over Australia was only the second GB win over that opposition at a World Cup. A stirring semi-final triumph over a stunned Irish side meant Mixed Seniors would face Aussie opposition once again but they were unable to repeat their round robin victory and claimed silver for their brilliant efforts.

Mixed Open had the honour of playing the opening match of the tournament under floodlights following the opening ceremony. Their victory over South Africa kicked off a near perfect run through the pool stages that ended only with a single point loss to New Zealand Exiles, by which time their passage to the Super 6 stage was guaranteed. They picked up a second win against South Africa and one against Italy in the second stage of the competition but had a final play, game-winning try against Ireland ruled out for a fractionally forward pass. The Irish would prevail once again in a tight bronze medal contest to prevent GB reaching the podium in the category.

Men’s Open renewed their 2018 rivalry with Lebanon and lost their pool game by two points having led at half-time, a notable improvement from the previous World Cup. They would notch up confident wins over Australia Indigenous, Italy and Ireland before facing Lebanon again in a controversial Grading Final that ultimately went down as a draw. GB then went into the tougher side of the knockouts, not that it was evident in their electric defeat of New Zealand Exiles. They faced Australia in the semi-final in a thrilling display of international men’s Tag and proved a quality opposition for the side that would ultimately become World Champions. Following the semi-final loss, the team recorded a second win against Ireland to claim a bronze medal.

Great Britain Men’s 40s started their campaign in the same style as the Women’s 35s by defeating France, the first win in an unbeaten five game run to start the tournament that included the scalp of Lebanon and an impressive points tally against Hong Kong China. The Aussies would prove a class apart in the category before Great Britain came up just short against Ireland with their progress to the semi-final already secured. They would lose to the same opponents by a single point again to miss out on the final by the narrowest margin before putting clear distance between themselves and the Alliance side to claim bronze in their last match of the tournament.

Men’s 30s bounced back from a tough British & Irish Cup to recapture the form that took them all the way to Great Britain’s first World Cup final back in 2018. Over day two and three they captured three one-point thrillers in a row over the Exiles sides from New Zealand, Ireland and Great Britain, the latter a-come-from-behind scrap that saw GBTR score the winning try on the final play of the game. Ultimately Men’s 30s would come unstuck against Australia and Ireland in the same way as the Men’s 40s but were unable to repeat their round-robin win over New Zealand Exiles in the bronze medal game and finished fourth.

Will Shepherd, Great Britain Programme Director said: “The achievements in this World Cup campaign mark the culmination of five years of hard work by all the players, coaches and staff involved in the programme who have together enjoyed thrilling highs and learnt from tough setbacks. 

“In this time we have won two British and Irish Cups and achieved victories at the International Tag Series but nothing comes close to the pride I have in the teams for achieving this stunning success. We had been targeting four medals with one of them gold so to surpass that target so comprehensively with one gold, two silver and three bronze medals and all eight teams finishing in the top four of their competition is brilliant and stands as evidence to the commitment and contribution of everyone involved in the programme.

“This does however mark the start of a new chapter, one that shows that Great Britain Tag Rugby is on the correct course and can continue to grow, to progress, and to achieve as we work toward exciting new horizons both for our teams and for the sport as a whole.”

The Irish Tag Rugby Association hosted the official tournament stream on their YouTube channel and all three Great Britain World Cup finals as well as 11 other GB games can be found there to watch on replay. 

Photos from the event can be found on Great Britain Tag Rugby’s Facebook.

Great Britain Tag Rugby thanks Ireland Tag, the Irish Tag Rugby Association and the International Tag Federation for their work planning and hosting the tournament; our Associate Partner Oaklin, Try Tag Rugby and the Rugby Football League for their support and coverage; the referees, their managers and assessors for their work; and the host venue, the University of Limerick.

Results by Category

Women’s Open

Game 1: Great Britain 13 – 3 Australian Indigenous
Game 2: Ireland 3 – 3 Great Britain
Game 3: Great Britain 6 – 0 Great Britain Exiles
Game 4: Vietnam 1 – 12 Great Britain
Game 5: Great Britain 4 – 0 Irish Exiles
Game 6: New Zealand Exiles 2 – 6 Great Britain
Game 7: Australia 5 – 4 Great Britain

Cup Semi-Final: Great Britain 1 – 0 New Zealand Exiles
Grand Final: Australia 4 – 1 Great Britain

Finishing position: Second (Silver Medalists)


Women’s 30s

Game 1: Australia Indigenous 0 – 25 Great Britain
Game 2: Ireland 0 – 9 Great Britain
Game 3: Great Britain 4 – 3 Australia
Game 4: Australia Indigenous 2 – 13 Great Britain
Game 5: Ireland 1 – 4 Great Britain
Game 6: Great Britain 1 – 3 Australia

Grand Final: Great Britain 5 – 1 Australia 

Finishing position: First (Gold Medalists and World Champions)


Women’s 35s

Game 1: Great Britain 18 – 0 France
Game 2: Australia 8 – 3 Great Britain
Game 3: Great Britain 2 – 2 Ireland
Game 4: Alliance 0 – 7 Great Britain

Cup Semi-Final: Great Britain 2 – 3 Ireland (After Drop-Off)
Bronze Medal Match: Alliance 0 – 3 Great Britain 

Finishing position: Third (Bronze Medalists)


Mixed Open

Game 1: South Africa 5 – 11 Great Britain
Game 2: Great Britain 24 – 0 Japan
Game 3: France Barbarians 0 – 31 Great Britain
Game 4: Great Britain 2 – 3 New Zealand

Super 6:
Game 1: Great Britain 6 – 8 New Zealand Exiles
Game 2: Great Britain 7 – 4 Italy
Game 3: South Africa 8 – 10 Great Britain
Game 4: Ireland 5 – 4 Great Britain
Game 5: Australia 11 – 6 Great Britain

Bronze Medal Match: Ireland 6 – 4 Great Britain

Finishing position: Fourth


Mixed Seniors

Game 1: Great Britain 7 – 3 South Africa
Game 2: Great Britain 5 – 5 Alliance
Game 3: New Zealand 4 – 8 Great Britain
Game 4: Great Britain 2 – 1 Australia
Game 5: New Zealand Exiles 6 – 19 Great Britain
Game 6: Ireland 5 – 3 Great Britain

Cup Semi-Final: Great Britain 7 – 3 Ireland
Grand Final: Australia 11 – 4 Great Britain

Finishing position: Second (Silver Medalists)


Men’s Open

Game 1: Lebanon 7 – 5 Great Britain
Game 2: Great Britain 13 – 1 Australia Indigenous
Game 3: Italy 2 – 15 Great Britain
Game 4: Great Britain 5 – 1 Ireland

Grading Final: Lebanon 5 – 5 Great Britain

Cup Quarter-Final: New Zealand Exiles 3 – 7 Great Britain
Cup Semi-Final: Great Britain 3 – 7 Australia
Bronze Medal Match: Ireland 3 – 4 Great Britain 

Finishing position: Third (Bronze Medalists)


Men’s 30s

Game 1: Great Britain 14 – 1 Hong Kong China
Game 2: Great Britain 3 – 2 New Zealand Exiles
Game 3: Ireland Exiles 5 – 6 Great Britain
Game 4: Great Britain Exiles 4 – 5 Great Britain
Game 5: United States 2 – 6 Great Britain
Game 6: France 0 – 18 Australia
Game 7: Great Britain 2 – 11 Australia
Game 8: Great Britain 3 – 7 Ireland

Cup Semi-Final: Australia 8 – 1 Great Britain
Grand Final: Great Britain 2 – 5 New Zealand Exiles 

Finishing position: Fourth


Men’s 40s

Game 1: Great Britain 14 – 1 France
Game 2: Great Britain 5 – 0 Alliance Rebels
Game 3: Lebanon 7 – 8 Great Britain
Game 4: Hong Kong China 0 – 27 Great Britain
Game 5: Alliance Barbarians 2 – 5 Great Britain
Game 6: Great Britain 1 – 9 Australia
Game 7: Ireland 4 – 3 Great Britain

Cup Semi-Final: Ireland 2 – 1 Great Britain
Grand Final: Alliance Barbarians 2 – 13 Great Britain 

Finishing position: Third (Bronze Medalists)