Ulster’s up and coming ladies players can now set their sights on Paris with the IRB announcing last week that the 2014 Women’s World Cup will take place in the French capital.
The IRB Council selected the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) as the Host Union following a recommendation from the Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) Board to approve a tender that clearly demonstrated a commitment to delivering a world class environment for teams and fans and a platform to grow Women’s Rugby in France and throughout the world.
“The Fédération Française de Rugby is very proud and pleased to have been chosen to host Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014. Hosting the world’s premier Women’s Rugby event is an exciting opportunity to support the growing success of the Game in France,” said FFR President Pierre Camou speaking at the announcement.
The announcement is a further boost to a sport that has experienced significant growth in participation and profile since the International Olympic Committee’s decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games from 2016.
Competitiveness is increasing with emerging Rugby nations such as Brazil, Kenya, China and Russia all committed to development and performance programmes, while Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow promises to underscore the global nature of Women’s Rugby.
IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said: “These are exciting times for Women’s Rugby, with over 200,000 women currently playing the Game in over 100 countries around the world.”
Women’s rugby in Ulster is reflecting the global increase in the Women’s game with Ballymoney joining Belfast Harlequins, Carrick, Cavan, Cooke, City of Derry and Enniskillen in the All Ireland Leagues for 2011-12, giving Ulster clubs their highest ever representation in the competition, and with development sides like Ards, Belfast Harlequins II, Letterkenny and Malone all looking to push on, the women’s game has never been as competitive.
With Ulster’s Lauren Day forced to withdraw from the Ireland RWC Squad in 2010 with a broken wrist, Ulster were left with Eliza Downey as the sole representative in the competition last time round, however there are hopes for a stronger representation in 2014. The Cooke duo ae joined by Grace Davitt who now represents Ulster, and Cooke, having moved to Belfast for work.
Donegal’s Larissa Muldoon and City of Derry’s Stacey-Lea Kennedy broke into the International set up last year and, alongside Day and Downey, they will look to consolidate their International status in the coming season, and, just like in the men’s game, there is a raft of exciting young talent coming through the ranks who will hope to break into the provincial and international set up over the next few seasons.
Details regarding the global qualification process for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 will be announced later this year with qualifying expected to kick-off in 2012.