Six Nations may pave Ireland’s way to World Cup 2014
According to the International Rugby Board (IRB), in total there will be six automatic qualifiers: New Zealand, England, Australia, France, USA and Canada.
As far as Ireland is concerned, the Six Nations tournaments of this year and next could decide the issue. Ireland opens this year’s Six Nations competition on 3rd February next, taking on Wales at Ashbourne RFC.
For the European teams looking to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, England and France will automatically qualify due to England being World Cup runners up in 2010 and France being the hosts in 2014.
The two top Six Nations teams other than England and France, therefore, will qualify plus the highest ranked teams in Europe.
If we look at the Six Nations tables, this looks promising for Ireland. Last year’s is below, and reflects the team’s form over recent years:
The expanded qualification process underscores the commitment of the IRB to grow global participation and achieve greater competitiveness as set out in the recently launched IRB Women’s Rugby Plan.
“With over 200,000 registered women currently playing the Game in over 100 countries around the world, the qualification process reflects the significant and sustained growth we have experienced in recent years in the Women’s Game.”
“We now have an improved tournament structure around the world which reflects the appetite for high level elite competition amongst traditional and emerging nations and we have incorporated these existing competitions, wherever possible, into the qualification process in line with the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan.”
As I write this, the radio broadcasts an ad for a national newspaper’s special supplement on schools’ rugby, including detailed analyses and squad-by-squad breakdown. It’s a pity this level of sports reporting doesn’t seem to apply to women’s senior rugby, as well as the kiddies’ game.
Given the IRFU’s commitment to developing the women’s game in Ireland, let’s hope they and the mainstream press show the level of support deserving of our national team.
Anyone for the Rugby World Cup 2018 in Lansdowne Road?