The countdown to the Women’s Rugby World Cup has begun amid belief that the IRFU’s ability to host a cross-border competition will strengthen Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 men’s tournament.
In glorious weather in Dublin yesterday the tournament logo, a resplendent five-tone green design, was unveiled ahead of its August 2017 kick-off date that will see UCD host the pool stages before the semi-finals and finals are staged in Belfast.
With no babies waiting on the doorstep of Leinster house, an Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived to pounce on a positive story. Women’s sport, a national cause and sun in the sky, what more could a national leader ask for to get that pom-pom waving fist of his into a flurry?
The Taoiseach, much like the commander in chief of the IRFU, Philip Browne, recognised the influence a successful women’s event would have on building confidence in the island of Ireland hosting the big dance in 2023.
“The fact that we’ll be hosting a World Rugby tournament in August of next year and decisions around Rugby World Cup 2023 are going to be made in September, October next year,” Browne said. “So we are very aware that this has to be a really well-run tournament in 2017.
“It will have a substantial impact [on the men’s bid]. We have to be able to show that we can run an international tournament across the island of Ireland involving both governments, making sure that the logistics are right and making sure that the quality of what we do is right up there.
“You heard today that every successive Women’s Rugby World Cup is better than the last and we have to make damn sure that this is going to be the best Women’s Rugby World Cup ever.”
Next week, World Rugby will supply the tender documents to the countries looking to host the 2023 event, Ireland, France, Italy, and South Africa, and Browne says that’s when the bid team’s real work will begin.
As for Ireland’s ambition of winning the Women’s World Cup on home soil, captain Niamh Briggs says that playing a first-ever November series can help lay the platform for success.
UCD is expected to be confirmed as the host venue as Ireland take on New Zealand, Canada, and England between November 13 and 27 in order to get players, supporters and organisers used to the Belfield ground.
“The quality of opposition is massive. England and New Zealand have lifted the World Cup and Canada got to the final last time, so that’s going to be huge. Also, it allows us to almost play a mini-World Cup, because the games are every four days,” Briggs said.
Going into those games Ireland will mix newly capped players from the Six Nations with the more experienced players, who are currently trying to qualify for the Rio Olympics, together for the first time and Briggs believes that will drive an intense fight for places.
“Ultimately, the girls all want to be playing in a home World Cup. It’s just going to bolster everybody, and it’s going to create competition within the squad, which is what we need,” Briggs said. “We all want to win every game we play.
“I’m not going turn around and tell you that I’d be happy to get to a semi-final again. We’re driven, and that doesn’t change.”
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