14 May 2015

Ireland to host women's Rugby World Cup

6:25 am on 14 May 2015

Dublin and Belfast will host the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 after World Rugby awarded the hosting rights for the tournament to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

With women's rugby continuing to experience record global growth, the pool stages will be held at University College Dublin, before the world's top female rugby players convene in Belfast for the semi-finals and positional play-offs at Queen's University Sport and Kingspan Stadium.

Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata

Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Women's Rugby World Cup is being brought forward by one year to 2017 to maximise synergy with the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens cycles for the world's top female players.

The event will return to a four-year cycle after 2017.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Women's Rugby World Cup continues to go from strength to strength, proving a hit with fans, broadcasters and sponsors around the globe, with its compelling, competitive action and global profile."

"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 think."

New Zealand Black Ferns v Manusina Samoa

New Zealand Black Ferns v Manusina Samoa Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"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."

Women's Rugby World Cup attracted capacity crowds and record broadcast audiences in the last two tournaments in France in 2014 and England in 2010.

There are now more than 1.7 million women and girls playing the sport (an increase of 20 per cent on 2014), while women's rugby also continues to experience record growth in popularity, attendance and media exposure driven by the success of Women's Rugby World Cup and Olympic Games inclusion.

Ireland has been at the forefront of the success story, with the women's team winning the Six Nations Grand Slam for the first time in 2013 and claiming the title again earlier this year.

In 2014, they caused one of the biggest upsets in Women's Rugby World Cup history when they beat four-time defending champions New Zealand in the pool stages, before going on to finish fourth - their best-ever result.

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