World Rugby have said they believe they will break the competition attendance record with the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which is set to be staged in New Zealand later this year.
Major doubts have been raised about the viability of the tournament due to the pandemic, but World Rugby have issued a statement this afternoon with the full schedule for the competition.
The brute facts behind fears for the Women's Rugby World Cup:
Leading women’s rugby commentator @nickheathsport ??? takes a look at the challenges facing #RWC2021 organisers that have thrown huge doubt on the tournament https://t.co/eHvnsLEOaA pic.twitter.com/gpiaXhGFwy
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 15, 2021
Champions New Zealand will play Australia at Eden Park on the opening day, a fixture which is likely to break the record set in 2017 in England. The tournament kicks off on September 18th and will include longer rest periods for players.
A World Rugby statement reads: “With teams and fans at the heart of tournament planning, the match schedule has been developed to maximise the advancement of women’s rugby on the world stage. Eden Park, venue for the men’s final in 1987 and 2011, Northland Events Centre in Whangarei and Waitakere Stadium will provide the perfect stages to draw thousands of fans with attractive ticketing and entertainment programmes.
“The 44,000 capacity Eden Park will also host the semi-finals on Saturday, 9 October and the bronze final and RWC 2021 final on Saturday, 16 October, giving fans plenty of opportunities to be part of something special and make women’s rugby history.
“Reflecting the history-making theme, RWC 2021 will see the return of a quarter-final stage, while longer rest periods between match days and expanded squad sizes will enable the world’s top teams to perform at their best on the greatest stage for rugby.
“The 12 teams will compete across three action-packed days of pool matches, Saturday 18, Thursday 23 and Tuesday, 28 September, with games to be played at Eden Park and Waitakere Stadium in Auckland, and Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.
“USA will have the honour of opening the tournament, facing Europe 1 at 11:45 NZT, followed by Canada v Asia 1 at 14:15 NZT in the other Pool B match, with Wales taking on the Final Qualification Tournament Winner at 16:45 NZT to close out day one at the Northland Events Centre.
“At Eden Park, France will take on South Africa at 14:15 NZT followed by England versus Fiji – who will make their Rugby World Cup debut – at 16:45 NZT, in the other Pool C match. Hosts and reigning champions New Zealand will bring the curtain down on a thrilling schedule of matches when they take on Australia at 19:15 NZT.”
World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte said: “Rugby World Cup 2021 is a key milestone for the global development of our sport. Building on the success of past editions, this tournament will be a testimony to the incredible growth women’s rugby has experienced in past years. What better backdrop than New-Zealand to celebrate all of this!”
Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper said: “We are so proud in New Zealand to be hosting the biggest women’s sporting event in the world this year. Our team is developing a robust platform on which to deliver an incredible tournament that will draw greater attention to women’s rugby than ever before. For the fans here in New Zealand and the global audience tuning in to watch via the international broadcast, we are excited to have such a compelling and exhilarating mix of match contestants in the opening weekend.
“It will give fans a taste of the excitement from the first kick-off and have them hooked to attend or watch every match of the tournament, in a schedule that promises to deliver an action-packed and intense competition, super-charging the women’s game globally and firing up and inspiring fans around the globe.”
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