With the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 kicking off in nine months from today, the Pool Draw for the tournament took place this morning in Belfast City Hall.
The Ireland Women have been drawn into Pool C alongside Six Nations rivals France, who defeated Ireland in the 3rd/4th place play-off at the 2014 tournament, as well as the Australian Wallaroos and Asia/Oceania 1, which will be the winners of a round robin tournament between Fiji, Japan and Hong Kong.
The 12 competing teams were drawn by Women’s Rugby World Cup Chairman Bill Beaumont, Olympic Gold medallist Dame Mary Peters, Women’s Rugby World Cup winner and former England player Maggie Alphonsi and former Ireland Women’s captain Fiona Coghlan.
Speaking about the draw, Ireland Women’s captain Niamh Briggs said: “This is a huge opportunity for the Irish team. We’ve been drawn with France who we know well from the Six Nations, as well as Australia and then one of Fiji, Japan or Hong Kong, so we’ll be looking forward to the challenge of taking on those teams in UCD in nine months’ time.”
“With the competition taking place in our own back yard, it gives the Irish fans a huge opportunity to bring as much passion and support to Dublin and Belfast as possible, so we’re looking forward to seeing lots of green at the venues next August.”
Canada have been drawn in Pool A with New Zealand, Wales and the runners-up of the Asia/Oceania round robin. While Pool B will see defending champions England battle it out with the USA and Italy and either Spain or Scotland, who will play off for the final spot.
After the draw, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The last Women’s Rugby World Cup in France was a watershed moment for the Women’s game, with record crowds and massive TV audiences watching across the world.
“There are some fantastic matches in store in August and, with over two million women and girls currently playing the sport, I have no doubt that next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin and Belfast will be a fantastic event and encourage many more ladies to get involved with the sport.”
IRFU President Stephen Hilditch commented: “It’s a very exciting time for Women’s rugby in Ireland and a very exciting time for the IRFU as we get set to host a global tournament in both Dublin and Belfast. Today’s draw is another key milestone and it’s great to see such a fantastic turnout here at Belfast City Hall.
“With nine months to go until the tournament begins in UCD, everyone in the IRFU is working hard to make it the most memorable Women’s Rugby World Cup ever.”
Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, who also attended the draw, added: “The Women’s Rugby World Cup Pool Draw is the perfect opportunity to underline Northern Ireland’s commitment to delivering world class events.
“This tournament has the capacity to generate at least £1.8 million for the local economy across the nine-day period attracting over 23,500 spectators and visitors. The opportunity to host this prestigious event is a huge boost for sport and particularly Women’s rugby here.”
The Irish Minister of State for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD, attended the draw in Belfast and he remarked: “Ireland has a track record of delivering world class sporting events as well as world class sporting talent, and I am excited by the opportunity to bring the Women’s Rugby World Cup to the next level.
“Events like this can only inspire more girls to take up team sports, and having positive sporting role models like our Women’s rugby team is a very important way to encourage young girls to get involved and hopefully to stay involved in sport.”
The competition will run from August 9 to 26 next year, with the pool games taking place in University College Dublin between August 9 and 17 and the play-off games and finals set to be played in Belfast at Queen’s University and Kingspan Stadium.
WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP 2017 POOLS –
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C|
|Asia/Oceania 2||Europe 1||Asia/Oceania 1|
For more information about the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, visit www.rwcwomens.com.