Twelve teams will take part in the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup. Six teams have qualified directly, in champions New Zealand, runners-up England, Australia, France, the USA and Canada.
The two best teams outside of England and France across the 2012 and 2013 Women's RBS 6 Nations tournaments will qualify for the World Cup, spots that will be hotly contested between Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.
The remaining two teams will have to battle it out with four others in Madrid in April to determine who gets two further qualifying positions for the World Cup.
"This year's Women's RBS 6 Nations is shaping up to be a really exciting one," said IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty.
"From what I've seen in the run-up to the competition, all teams are really fired up and ready to go. The prospect of the World Cup in France next year is adding to the excitement.
"I expect to see teams raise the bar in preparation for the World Cup which is the pinnacle of the fifteens game."
Women's rugby is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world and there are currently an estimated one million women and girls playing the game in 112 countries worldwide, with more than 200,000 registered and competing on a regular basis.
The IRB Women's Rugby Plan, which runs from 2011 to 2016, has the goals of increasing global competition on a sustainable basis, providing greater competition opportunities on the world stage in Sevens and fifteens, and optimising the Olympic Games opportunity.
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