Women's World Cup: South Africa's 'big task'
SPOTLIGHT: The 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup will be the ninth edition of the prestigious event and will certainly be one mammoth challenge for South Africa.
The tournament will be held in New Zealand between September 18 and October 16, 2021, in the cities of Auckland and Whangarei.
This will be the first women’s World Cup hosted by a Southern Hemisphere country.
Hosts New Zealand received automatic qualification after being crowned 2017 World Cup champions.
England, France, United States, Canada, Australia and Wales also qualified automatically as top seven finishers at the 2017 tournament.
Fiji, Colombia, Kenya and South Africa are the other countries that will vie for the trophy with just one spot available.
The final team to qualify for World Cup 2021 will be decided via the new Repechage tournament, which was scheduled to take place in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Repechage tournament will consist of the second-placed teams in Asia, Europe and Oceania regional tournaments and the winner of the play-off between South America and the second-placed team from the Africa regional qualifier.
New Zealand are definite favourites to lift the crown. Known as the Black Ferns, the national team have dominated the women’s game – winning the last five World Cup titles (1998, 2002 2006, 2010 and 2017).
The Black Ferns’ success saw them become the first women’s team ever to be named the World Rugby Team of the Year.
To further boost their changes the New Zealand’s domestic tournament the Waikato Farah Palmer Cup is set kick-off on September 5, keeping their preparations for the event right on track.
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In complete contrasting fortunes, the 2021 extravaganza will be the South African Women’s fourth World Cup appearance and their first in seven years after last featuring in the 2014 tournament in France.
South Africa had an exciting 2020 season lined up, with the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup and a year-end tour to Europe scheduled, but their matches were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The side has been allowed to train, however, with just 13 months to go, Springbok Women’s captain Nolusindiso Booi admitted that their inability to play rugby this year was not ideal in terms of their Rugby World Cup preparations.
“These are unprecedented times, and although this challenge is unlike any other we have faced, my message to the team is that the pandemic should not be an obstacle in attaining our goals,” said Booi.
“We have a big task ahead next year, which requires commitment and discipline in everything we do, so it is important that we remain positive and allow this to make us stronger.
“Diamonds are formed under extreme conditions of pressure, and I’d like the team to keep that in the back of their minds as they continue to put in the hard yards on their own until we are able to assemble as a team again.”
An unstoppable energy.
An inspirational story.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) February 4, 2020
* The first Women’s World Cup to have the International Rugby Board’s approval was that of 1998, but we have included the first two, one in Wales, the other in Scotland.
1998: New Zealand
2002: New Zealand
2006: New Zealand
2010: New Zealand
2017: New Zealand