With the Women’s Rugby World Cup now entering its latter stages, it seems this point may be pivotal in shaping the conclusion of the contest, as the semi-finals may signal intriguing and competitive encounters between the most accomplished teams from around the globe. Thus far, the tournament seems to have followed form, with four of the top five ranked nations claiming a semi-final place, and with England amongst these nations, along with being the present reigning champions, they may be superiorly equipped to attain this year’s edition. Yet, with the remaining teams seemingly possessing the necessary experience to cement their quest to the final, it seems a wide array of teams may claim the trophy, ultimately proving the strength in depth the sport possesses, and contributing to propelling it to the forefront of the sporting world.
The tournament itself debuted in 1991, and whilst the format itself has remained the same since its inception, the IRB seem to have continuously strived to ensure the event may be renovated to produce the prime levels of exposure. With the contest ultimately first receiving IRB backing in 1998, the third edition, it seemed the organisers may have been placed in challenging circumstances to get the tournament recognised, yet with a record four host bids in 2008 proving their ability to bypass geographical boundaries and unite nations under a common goal, it seemed to be a challenge they relished. As such, the tournament seems to be the most poignant opportunity for a smorgasbord of countries to compete at the highest level, and with the competition’s high prestige level perhaps now ensured, most notably due to these aforementioned implementations, it may play a pivotal role in advancing players’ careers.
Due to their status as reigning champions, England seemed to be referred to amongst the favourites to claim the title, and this suggestion seemed to be reiterated with the group results, as three victories from their three ties, including recording 47 points versus USA, enabled them to reach the semi-finals. Yet, perhaps their most proficient rivals, New Zealand, seemed to perform at their peak capabilities, utilising their superior ranking, and trophy cabinet, to similarly amass three victories, and advance for the next round as the top qualifier. Naturally, considering these two teams’ results, they were positioned in opposing semi-finals, and with a final between the top two ranked nations potentially to occur, it seems both may be showcasing the benefits of tenacity.
Whilst the final games may therefore claim the majority of the focus, it may also be important to outline the potential beneficial repercussions of the tournament, and whether it may act as the catalyst in securing an equal playing field for both women and men. Whilst many teams have achieved at previous World Cups, the team which may take the most plaudits seems to be England, who with four consecutive final appearances seem to be laying the foundations to triumph on a similar level to the men’s side. With English rugby’s status perhaps rising, predominantly due to international successes on the men’s side, the women may have achievements to strive for, and ultimately replicate, and with this tournament perhaps the pinnacle of the sport, contributing to their countries ever-expanding trophy cabinet may cement future career opportunities.
With the latter stages solely remaining, it seems the favourites may now have been pinpointed, with all of the teams’ abilities showcased. As such, the fans of the tournament may be preparing for captivating encounters and, with the tournament currently broadcast on mainstream TV channels, and the results, fixtures and teams easily accessible via the RWCW website, it seems the competition may be advancing the cause of the women’s game. This tournament may therefore be the catalyst in propelling women’s rugby onto the global stage, as whilst attendances and TV revenue may be surpassed by other events, and their male counterparts, there seems to be further aspirations to strive for, and with previous innovations laying the foundations for realising equality, the sport may be one step closer to achieving their goal.
How may this tournament act as the catalyst in propelling women’s rugby to the forefront of the sport?