The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 kicks off in Ireland tomorrow, and with twelve nations battling it out for the title, sell-out crowds and more TV and media coverage than ever before, the eighth edition of the tournament has all the ingredients to be the biggest and best yet.
Three groups of four teams will first contest the pool stages, and here’s how the draw is looking:
Canada, Hong Kong, Wales, New Zealand
England, Italy, Spain, USA
Australia, Ireland, France, Japan
England begin their title defence as tournament favourites, having beaten the mighty New Zealand away from home in June, although the Black Ferns will, as always, be a formidable force, and will be looking to climb back to the summit of the world rankings in the next three weeks. Expect a strong-looking Canada to be right in the mix come the business end of the tournament, too.
Wales find themselves in arguably the toughest and most physical pool, facing New Zealand in their opening round tomorrow afternoon, as well as Canada and Hong Kong. Wales Coach Roland Phillips, and daughter and Wales Captain Carys Phillips, are excited and upbeat about the coming three weeks, describing their pool draw as a “pool of opportunity”, and will be aiming to approach the group stages with “control and chaos”.
The tournament is a huge milestone for Hong Kong, the first time the region has qualified for a major 15s tournament, and they will undoubtedly relish the challenge ahead in a very tough group.
Ireland will also fancy themselves to go the distance this year in front of their home crowd, in what will be a real festival of attacking rugby.
Here’s wishing Wales all the best in their opening game against New Zealand tomorrow.