Ireland’s goal of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup 2021 is more clearly in focus after the pools were confirmed with less than 10 months until the ninth edition of the tournament kicks off in Auckland on 18 September, 2021.
Adam Griggs’ side are aiming for the “Europe 1” berth in Pool B where Canada and USA have already been drawn along with an “Asia 1” qualifier.
With the December qualifiers postponed and fixtures still to be confirmed, Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy says “We’re working with World Rugby and Rugby Europe at the moment around what that process will be. Hopefully we can finalise it over the next couple of weeks.”
Reigning champions New Zealand are set to face Australia, Wales and the Final Qualification Tournament Winner in Pool A.
Pool B sees Canada set to face USA for the first time in the pool stages of a Rugby World Cup alongside Europe 1 and Asia 1.
Rugby World Cup 2017 runners-up England are drawn in Pool C alongside bronze medallists France, South Africa and Fiji, who are set to make their Rugby World Cup debut.
The Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw saw New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, together with Rugby World Cup winners Melodie Robinson, Dr Farah Palmer and Dan Carter, draw the balls for the showcase event.
Seven teams qualified directly for RWC 2021 courtesy of a top-seven finish at the last tournament in Ireland in 2017, defending champions New Zealand, runners-up England, bronze medallists France, losing semi-finalists USA, Canada, Australia and Wales.
Fiji and South Africa confirmed their places through the regional qualification process back in 2019, via the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup and Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship.
The remaining three places will be filled by a qualifier from Asia and Europe together with the winner of the Final Qualification Tournament, a first for a women’s Rugby World Cup, offering a second opportunity for teams to qualify.
The Rugby World Cup 2021 match schedule will be announced later in the year.