The International Rugby Board has revealed that Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 will kick off in Paris, France, on Friday, August 1, 2014.
The announcement was made at an IRB event in Madrid, where Italy, Spain, Scotland, Samoa, Sweden and the Netherlands are currently battling it out for two of the four remaining places at the showpiece of the Women’s Game.
The pool matches for WRWC 2014 will take place at the Centre National du Rugby (CNR) in Marcoussis and Marcoussis Rugby Club.
The knockout stages of the tournament will also see matches played at the CNR in Marcoussis, with the semi-finals, Bronze Final and Final taking place at Stade Jean Bouin in the French capital.
The matches will take place on August 1, 5, 9, 13, with the final played on August 17.
The tournament format will be the same as for the hugely successful Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010, with 12 teams split into three pools of four. The pool allocation draw will take place once all 12 teams are confirmed.
Eight teams have already qualified for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in defending champions New Zealand, 2010 runners-up England, Australia, hosts France, USA, Canada, Ireland and Wales.
With one round remaining of the qualifier in Madrid, four teams – Italy, Spain, Samoa and Scotland – are still in contention for those two qualification places going into the final day on Saturday.
This will leave only two places remaining, to be filled by an African and Asian qualifier.
It’s a pity that this burgeoning competition, which reached new heights in 2010, is being somewhat usurped by the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, in preparation for Qualification for the 2016 Olympic games, particularly as Ireland now sit at the top table of European Rugby and really should be diverting the bulk of the funding and support into the continued development of the structure of the fifteen-a-side game.
The unseemly haste with which the IRB, RFU and now the IRFU have embraced the reduced format does fill me with worry, particularly with the vast differences in funds being made available, and this could be the last meaningful Women’s World Cup for the foreseeable future, with even the established RBS Women’s Six Nations under threat last month.
With the relatively small pool of international standard women’s players being forced to choose between 7’s and 15’s there is a great danger that elite players are lost, or burn out, in the pursuit of Olympic glory and the intrinsically unique 15 a side game, a game for all shapes and sizes, is irreparably devalued for future generations of Irish Women players.
On the back of the successful Olympic Games in the UK last season it may appear that this overwhelming embracing of the cut down game makes commercial sense but in my opinion it’s the placing a short term fad ahead of the long term sustainable product, a product which should be getting even more support and resources on the back of Ireland Women’s Six Nations achievements this season.