The Women’s Rugby World Cup was officially launched in Dublin this morning and the tournament is expected to be the biggest ever.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed the captains and coaches of all competing nations, along with World Rugby dignitaries, to Government Buildings as the formalities and pleasantries before the serious business begins enters its final few days.
With tickets for the pool stages now sold out, the TV compound opposite the Sports Centre populated by trucks from around the world and over 350 media personnel expected on site throughout the tournament, the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup will be the biggest yet.
When defending champions England face Spain in the tournament opener on Wednesday afternoon, the match will be broadcast in 110 countries while over 16,000 fans are expected in UCD over the course of the three matchdays.
Ireland aiming to press home advantage
New Ireland captain Claire Molloy says the players will be able to handle the pressure of hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The tournament begins in Dublin on Wednesday and the hosts hope to at least emulate their success of 2014 when they reached the semi-finals.
Molloy believes Sevens specialists Australia will be dangerous first opponents at the UCD complex.
“They will target us and aim to be party spoilers,” said Molloy.
“We have been in their position before. In 2010 we were playing the hosts [England] and that is what we set out to do, to pull out one big performance.
“I cannot think about playing France or the semi-finals or anything like that because Australia are going to be our biggest barrier straight away.”
Getting out of their group will not be easy for the Irish who find themselves facing Australia, France and Japan.
Australia have a point to prove after coming off the back of five straight losses, and possess the physicality and drive to pull off an upset.
Ireland played two friendlies against Japan in June, and narrowly came out on the right side of the score on both encounters, but the Japanese set down a marker by showcasing their flair and pace.
The unique opportunity to win a World Cup on home soil is one of the pinnacles of sport. Can Ireland make it count?