A Beginners Guide To The Women’s Rugby World Cup.

On the 9th of August, the Women’s Rugby World Cup begins. 12 countries will compete in four Irish stadiums, and over the course of three weeks, 30 matches will be scheduled. The final is scheduled to take place in Belfast, on Saturday 26th of August, at 19.45pm.

Hang on, why is it happening in 2017?

The Rugby World Cup takes place every four years and this year is the 8th cycle. (We did say this was a beginners Guide!) Here’s a bit of backstory. The 2010 event was hosted by England, and New Zealand won, beating England in the final 13 – 10. In 2014, the event was hosted in France, and England beat Canada 21-9 in the final. So the next one is due in 2018, right? Wrong. The four year cycle has been re-set, to avoid clashing with the Olympics, and the Women’s World Cup Sevens; and so we get to play this year, 2017, and every four years after that.

The Women’s Rugby World Cup is basically the biggest event in Women’s rugby, and support has grown each and every cycle. The twelve countries taking part in alphabetical order are; Australia, Canada, England, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, USA and Wales.

Qualifications – who gets to play?

So, the tournament is traditionally 12 countries, and the host nation gets a free pass. Then the best seven teams from the previous tournament also qualify. So that was Australia, USA, New Zeland, France, Canada and England. Italy and Wales also qualified because of their performance in the 2015 and 2016 Women’s Six Nations (England, France and Ireland already having qualified). Then in 2016 additional matches determined that Hong Kong, Japan and Spain qualified too.

And these are the odds from Paddy Power for outright betting, as of 7th of May.  England and New Zealand being joint favourites for the win, with Ireland and Australia both being pegged at 33-1.

England Women 11/10
New Zealand Women 11/10
Canada Women 12/1
France Women 22/1
Ireland Women 33/1
Australia Women 33/1
USA Women 66/1
Wales Women 150/1
Italy Women 300/1
Japan Women 400/1
Hong Kong Women 500/1 and Spain Women 500/1


Who plays who and when?


The 12 qualified teams are divided into three Pools.

Pool A: Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Wales.

Pool B: England, Italy, Spain, USA

Pool C: Australia, France, Ireland Japan.

Each Pool plays a ’round robin’ which means each team plays every other participant once, so that’s six matches per pool. (Each team plays three matches)  All of these first round matches are scheduled and we know who’s playing where. After these matches there are semi finals and play offs which will determine who goes through to the finals, as well as the finishing order for various teams. We don’t know who will be playing in these matches until the results of the Pool matches are in.  So we know when and where these matches are on, but not who’s playing (yet). So you can buy a ticket to the final, though you won’t know what teams might make it through 🙂


The first six of the pool matches are all on Wednesday, 9th of August and are played throughout the day at two venues in UCD. Ireland are set to play Australia at 7pm.

So How Does the Scoring Work?

It’s pretty simple actually. You get four points for a win, one for a draw and zero if you lose. If any team gets four or more tries in one match, they get a bonus point. If you lose by seven points or less, you also get a bonus point.

Women To Watch

If you’ve never watched a game of women’s rugby before, you’ll be in for a number of surprises. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a strong, fast game. These women take some really serious hits. In fact, you’ll spend the first twenty minutes wincing groaning and flinching as both sides hit and get hit repeatedly. Then after a while you’ll probably start yelling at the ref, the players and anyone else who isn’t cheering madly for your side. You get a sense that these are women with something to prove, there’s nothing but commitment and grit. It’s gripping!


There are 48 players in the panel (shortlisted to play for Ireland) and 13 of these have played at previous World Cups. 46 of the 48 have international experience. Players have been drawn from 11 clubs around the country with 8 from Old Belvedere, 6 from UL Bohemians and 6 from Galwegians.

leahWe’ve been bowled over (as have several opponents) by 23 year old Leah Lyons. She’s just… INCREDIBLE. When you watch her play, all you can do is thank our lucky stars she was born in Cork, and not Scotland, or somewhere Antipodean. At 5’9 and 105kg, she’s been playing rugby in Munster since she was a child, having come up through the ranks in Fermoy with a family all besotted by the sport. Watch her in action in this clip from last February.


As well as lots of great young talent on the squad, there are also some very experienced hands, with four players who have played at two previous World Cups. Nora Stapleton, Claire Molloy, Niamh Briggs and Marie Louise Reilly played in England and France, and they would experience and confidence to the side.

You can check out some of the players here:


So here are Ireland’s matches again:

Pool C –

Wednesday, August 9 –
Ireland v Australia, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 7pm

Sunday, August 13 –
Ireland v Japan, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 5.15pm

Thursday, August 17 –
Ireland v France, UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, 7.45pm

Play-Offs –

Tuesday, August 22 –
Semi-Finals, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Belfast

Saturday, August 26 –
Finals, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Belfast

So there you have it, your Women’s World Cup Rugby, 101! If you want to follow more of the news you can check out this link. http://www.irishrugby.ie/ireland2017/tournamentnews/

Tickets are available online from www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.