World Rugby, the global governing body for rugby union, has confirmed that Ireland will host the 2017 edition of its Women’s World Cup.
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) in March revealed it had submitted an all-Ireland bid to host the national team tournament at locations in both Dublin and Belfast.
Pool stages of the 2017 tournament will take place at University College Dublin, while the semi-finals and positional playoffs will be played in Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, at Queen’s University Sport and the Kingspan Stadium.
“With impressive results on and off the field, the IRFU is a leader in driving forward the promotion and development of women’s rugby and the union’s passion, dedication and expertise in women’s rugby was reflected in an impressive and forward thinking bid,” World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said.
"The awarding of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 to Ireland is great news for teams and fans as the sport continues to reach out and inspire new participants in our great game. I am sure that Dublin and Belfast will prove to be popular destinations.”
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne added: “Interest and participation in women's rugby continues to grow and building on this momentum we believe Ireland can deliver the best Women's Rugby World Cup to-date.”
Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 was hosted by France and won by England, after they beat Canada in the final at Stade Jean Bouin in Paris. The tournament set new records for both crowds and television audiences with close to three million viewers in France alone tuning in to watch the tournament at its peak last August.
The 2017 event will be a special edition as it will be tied in with the Olympic and World Cup Sevens cycles. World Rugby said it moved the tournament to 2017 in an effort to “maximise synergy” with the Olympic and World Cup Sevens cycles, which in turn will enable the world’s best female players to compete on rugby’s biggest stages. The World Cup will return to its traditional four-year cycle after 2017.
The IRFU is also planning an all-Ireland bid to host the men’s 2023 World Cup.