Women’s Rugby World Cup - Go n-éirí leat, mná na Éireann

The eighth Women’s Rugby World Cup opens in Dublin this evening, when England, the reigning world champions, play Spain, at UCD.

Women’s Rugby World Cup - Go n-éirí leat, mná na Éireann

In one of six games scheduled for today, Ireland play Australia at the same venue, later this evening. It is an event that all of Ireland, north and south, should welcome and celebrate.

The popularity of women’s rugby has grown over the last decade, so this event is a singular honour for the host nations. Apart from the Ryder Cup and the Special Olympics, it is the most significant sports event to come to Ireland in recent years.

Indeed, it has a significance beyond sport — the games are spread between Dublin and Belfast and the final will be played in Belfast on August 26, showing that normal life goes on, no matter how differences over Brexit might complicate relationships on this small island.

Like all sports, rugby is constantly evolving — New Zealand has just decided to test school players for drugs and a similar initiative is under consideration in Ireland.

Despite that dark shadow, which hangs over most sports, participating in a World Cup remains the highlight of any player’s career. And there is a sub-plot.

Should all go well, between now and August 26, it will be a feather in the cap for Ireland’s campaign to host the men’s event in 2023. In the meantime, let’s all wish Ireland’s squad the very best of luck.

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