May 13, 2015 marked a historic day for women’s sport in Ireland – confirmation that the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup will be contested on Irish shores - both north and south of the Island. The IRFU announced that they successfully won hosting privileges and the country has been in a happy haze of celebration since the significant news arrived yesterday afternoon.
It’s fair to say that this is huge - not only for the fast growing popularity of women’s rugby in Ireland but also for women’s sport in this country in general. It’s just another leap forward for female sports, offering further incentivisation for player participation, sponsorship opportunities, female role model growth and, dare we say it, claiming a world cup title!
We discussed on our blog earlier this year the disappointment felt when the lights went out in Ashbourne during our women’s six nations campaign and to think that fast forward three months, despite the prospect of another two six nations campaigns, our women’s team will be preparing to host some of the finest rugby nations in the 2017 women’s rugby world cup.
We’re under no illusions that in terms of scale, demand will be less than what would be expected if the IRFU are successful in their bid for the 2023 men’s Rugby World Cup but this should not take away from the wonderful prospect of putting our nation on a world stage in our home nation and firmly pinning our colours to the women’s rugby mast.
A tournament of this magnitude can only impact positively on the women’s game in Ireland and one can assume that should the tournament be a rousing success (which we expect it will be), it will go some way in benefiting our country’s rugby world cup bid for 2023.
It’s progressive also to think that as an All-Ireland team sport that both Dublin and Belfast will host the games. Facilities in University College Dublin and Queens University in Belfast will host the preliminary stages of the competition while the final will be contested on the newly developed Kingspan Park.
There will be ample opportunities to create further memorable occasions with a little over two years preparation time but lest not forget the nation’s reaction to the historic defeat over New Zealand in France last year or the jubilant scenes of celebration when the Irish women’s team lifted the six nations cup in March.
It’s now more important than ever to gather belief and to get out and support our women with our feet! We encourage everyone to pen the dates in their diaries but also to get out and support our top female athletes from all sporting disciplines so that our success with rugby may transfer to other female sports…