The 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday and event organisers are confident that the global showcase tournament will elevate women’s rugby to new levels, capturing the hearts and minds of new audiences around the world via an unprecedented broadcast platform.
The 17-day tournament features the world’s best women players following a first ever global qualification process.
Six teams qualified automatically, three-time defending champions New Zealand, 2006 runners-up England, France, Canada, USA and South Africa.
Kazakhstan, Australia, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Sweden join them having successfully negotiated the extensive qualification process.
The Twickenham Stoop will host the semi finals and final on Wednesday, September 1 and Sunday, September 5 respectively with the pool matches and play-off games staged at the multi-million pound high performance centre, Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.
Speaking at the official launch in City Hall, London, IRB Vice Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The Women’s Rugby World Cup has redefined the boundaries of women’s rugby over the years, producing memorable encounters, outstanding rugby and positioning the women’s game in front of global audiences.
“Through an irresistible platform of record TV coverage, highly-competitive matches, unprecedented media interest and strong public support. I am sure that the 2010 tournament will take women’s rugby to new levels, attracting new audiences in the UK and Ireland and around the world.
“I would like to thank the many people at the RFUW and RFU who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup is the biggest and most successful tournament to date.
“With all the teams here we can look forward to a wonderful festival of world class rugby played in impressive venues in front of large enthusiastic audiences. It promises to be an event not to be missed.”
Ireland open the tournament with a mouth-watering Pool B clash with tournament hosts and familiar foes England at Surrey Sports Park on Friday (kick-off 6.30pm).
Looking forward to that first game, Irish head coach Philip Doyle said: “I’m delighted we’re taking England on first up, so hopefully we can surprise them.
“They know us very well, and we know them very well, through the Six Nations over the years.
“Once we go across the whitewash, it’s really down to the fifteen players on each side. Every underdog has its day, so let’s hope Friday is our day.”
He added: “(Not having beaten them before) is a psychological barrier. You’ve got two hurdles to jump here – you’ve got to beat them in a World Cup, and beat them for the first time.
“We work very hard on our psychological preparation with the girls. They won’t be phased by it. They know they’re there for the taking. We’ve had some close run-ins with England over the years, especially in recent times.
“The scorelines are coming down and the games are definitely getting tighter. It’s a disadvantage, of course, but there always has to be a first time.”
Asked about his expectations going into the tournament, Doyle admitted: “Our expectations are to improve our world ranking. We must always go forward.
“In 2002 we were 13th, in 2006 we were eighth. We’d like to go up the ladder – we’d really would like to push for top six.”
Ireland Women’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures:
England v Ireland, Surrey, Friday, August 20, 6.30pm
USA v Ireland, Surrey, Tuesday, August 24, 4.30pm
Ireland v Kazakhstan, Surrey, Saturday, August 28, 4.30pm
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