New Zealand to host 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup

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Reigning champions New Zealand will host the 2021 Women’s World Cup, World Rugby announced Wednesday.

It will be the first time the tournament has been staged in the southern hemisphere, with New Zealand seeing off local rivals Australia for the hosting rights in three years’ time following a 25-17 vote in their favour by members of World Rugby’s governing council.

New Zealand are the most successful team in the history of the Women’s World Cup, having won five of the previous eight editions.

Fixtures in the six-week tournament will be split between Auckland and Whangarei, with match venues including Auckland’s Eden Park — the ‘spiritual home’ of New Zealand rugby.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed the decision by saying: “I’m hugely excited the event will be held here.

“New Zealand is the home of women’s rugby, the Black Ferns captured our imaginations again when they won their fifth World Cup title last year, and our entire country will get behind the tournament and all the teams participating in 2021.

“This government is committed to more women and girls getting involved in sport, so we are enthusiastic supporters of bringing this elite women’s tournament to New Zealand.”

The Black Ferns will be looking to emulate the example of the country’s All Blacks, who won men’s World Cups on home soil with Eden Park victories over France in both the 1987 and 2011 finals.

“Congratulations to New Zealand on being elected Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 host,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont in a statement.

Former England and British and Irish Lions captain Beaumont, added: “I would also like to thank Australia for its exceptional bid. We hope to welcome Australia back to bid again in the future.”

Meanwhile Raelene Castle, the “disappointed” chief executive of Rugby Australia, said: “We congratulate New Zealand Rugby on its successful bid, and we are sure they will deliver a fantastic tournament in what will be the first Women’s World Cup played in the Southern Hemisphere.

“While hosting the tournament here in Australia would have been the icing on the cake, we are looking forward to executing our extensive plans to accelerate growth in the women’s XVs format,” added Castle, herself born in Australia but brought up in New Zealand. – Agence France-Presse

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