With only a few days to go until the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s come around fast; that’s because in fact the previous one was only three years ago…The governing body have fast-forwarded the tournament a year in order to make space for increased focus on other events, such as the Olympic 7s.
Ireland are hosting this summer’s tournament and it’s great to see the British media giving the competition a favourable amount of coverage; here’s hoping it continues to rise as the tournament progresses!
It’s a tournament that’s fast growing within the global sporting spotlight but how much do you really know about the Women’s Rugby World Cup and what do you have to look forward to in the next few weeks?
Origin and History
- The first Women’s Rugby World Cup took place in Wales in 1991, however it wasn’t recognised as an official IRB tournament until 1998, when it was hosted by the Netherlands.
- New Zealand, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the most successful competing nation, having won it 4 times, whilst the second best performers are England who’ve won the World Cup twice – they also lost in three straight finals to New Zealand, before winning the 2014 Championship.
- This year, there are twelve teams entered, and they are split into 3 pools.
- The winner of each pool progresses to the final, whilst the best 2nd place finisher also goes through.
- This is Ireland’s first time of hosting the tournament (no team has hosted it more than once and only one outside Europe – Canada in 2006).
- Ireland are entering the tournament off the back of their best ever World Cup performance, finishing 4th in 2014. Although we’re 3 years on, which is of course a long time, they’ll have been gearing up for this for a long time and will be desperate to go deep into the tournament.
- Unfortunately, the Irish captain, Niamh Briggs, has been ruled out of the World Cup with an Achilles injury, which means the honour is passed on to experienced flanker, Claire Molloy. No doubt she’ll lead them with pride and passion in abundance.
- The matches are to be played in Belfast and Dublin: University College Dublin’s ground and Billings Park will host the pool stages, whilst the final stages will be played at Queen’s University Belfast’s ground and Ulster's Kingspan Stadium.
The obvious names to mention are England and New Zealand. They’ve very much been the dominant forces within the women’s game for a while, yet will all this contract talk distract the England team? And what about New Zealand’s test series defeat at the hands of the English; will that have a psychological effect?
Elsewhere, hosts Ireland will be desperate to give their home crowd something to cheer about and pull some quality performances out of the bag. The USA are an ever-improving force and many see them as real contenders this year, and as for Australia, well they’re just relishing the chance of being seen as underdogs.
With only one progressing from two of the pools and two progressing from one, there really is no margin for error! Game on; it should be a very competitive World Cup.
This is set to be the most widely viewed Women’s World Cup to date, with a record broadcast and social media coverage schedule – positive stats and the rugby hasn’t even started – great to see!
The tournament is to be broadcast in 110 countries, which is a fantastic way to promote the sport across the globe. Here’s hoping some exciting spectacles and quality performances can really push the sport to all corners of the world!