Samoa were yesterday announced as the twelfth and final participants in the 2006 Women's Rugby World Cup, which will be staged in Edmonton, Canada, next September.
The decision, taken at a meeting of the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) board in Paris, will see the South Sea Islanders join the top four from the 2002 competition -New Zealand, England, France and Canada - FORU representative Australia, ARFU qualifier Kazakhstan, CAR representative South Africa, NAWIRA representative USA, and Ireland, Scotland and Spain from FIRA.
Philip Doyle's Irish side qualified automatically for the 2006 World Cup by virtue of their nail-biting 11-6 win over their Welsh counterparts at the Cardiff Arms Park in March.
Yesterday saw Doyle and a number of Ireland's international stars, including team captain Sarah-Jane Belton, at Lansdowne Road to launch the beginning of the domestice women's rugby season this coming Sunday (September 25). The Women's All-Ireland League fixtures can be found at the IWRFU website - www.iwrfu.com
The IWRFU AIL Division finals will take place on the weekend of April 22/23.
Pictured above are: (From left to right) - Sinead Ryan (Navan), Sarah-Jane Belton (Ireland captain), Sarah Crosby (Navan), Fiona Coghlan (Leinster), Phillip Doyle (Ireland coach), Joy Neville (Shannon), Patrique Kelly (Munster), Roisin McNulty (Connacht) and Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohemians).