Otago Daily Times

Black Ferns to meet Wales and Aus­tralia

RUGBY

- Sports · Rugby · Rugby Union · Australia · Wellington, New Zealand · New Zealand · Auckland Region · Canada · United States of America · England · England national football team · France · France national football team · South Africa · Fiji · Whangarei · Jacinda Ardern · World Rugby · Rugby World Cup · Bill Beaumont

WELLINGTON: The de­fend­ing cham­pion Black Ferns have been drawn to play Wales, Aus­tralia and the win­ner of the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in their pool at next year's women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The draw was made in Auck­land yes­ter­day.

Canada, the US and the re­spec­tive win­ners of the Euro­pean and Asian tour­na­ments are in pool B.

Eng­land, France, South Africa and Fiji are in pool C.

The 12­team tour­na­ment will be played in Auck­land and Whangarei in Septem­ber and

October next year.

‘‘It is in­ter­est­ing how the pools have come out,’’

New Zealand

Black­well said.

‘‘We have an Aus­tralasian

cap­tain Eloise pool, North Amer­i­can and Euro­pean. Every time we come up against Aus­tralia it is a mas­sive bat­tle.

‘‘But we're not go­ing to be de­fend­ing the title, we're out there to win it.’’

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, who at­tended the draw, said the tour­na­ment would take on added sig­nif­i­cance for rugby and women's sport.

"Pre­Covid­19 this tour­na­ment was go­ing to be im­por­tant to New Zealand,’’ Ardern said. ‘‘Now it takes on a ex­tra spe­cial di­men­sion for the whole world.

‘‘This is huge for us. I would like to think that we are try­ing to show lead­er­ship around women in sport.

‘‘We need to demon­strate that peo­ple want to come out and support our Black Ferns be­cause they are ex­cep­tional ath­letes, not women ath­letes, ath­letes.’’

The seed­ings were based on rank­ings from Jan­uary 1, 2020 as re­stric­tions im­posed to halt the spread of the coro­n­avirus meant none of the south­ern hemi­sphere teams were able to play this year.

Matches will be held in Auck­land and Whangarei. The fi­nal will be at Eden Park, which hosted the 1987 and 2011 men's World Cup fi­nals but the full match sched­ule is yet to be re­leased.

World Rugby chair­man Bill Beau­mont, who was un­able to at­tend the draw be­cause of on­go­ing travel re­stric­tions, be­lieves that New Zealand 2021 will raise the bar on and off the field.

‘‘New Zealand 2021 will not simply raise the bar in terms of event host­ing, it will shine a bright light on the sport and its in­cred­i­ble play­ers to make the state­ment that the rise of women in rugby is real, is pow­er­ful and is trans­for­ma­tional,’’ he said.

‘‘The growth we've ex­pe­ri­enced in women's rugby is proof of the ‘see it, be it, play it' mantra, which is at the heart of our am­bi­tious 2017­25 Women in Rugby plan to in­spire par­tic­i­pa­tion and au­di­ence en­gage­ment across all age groups.

‘‘New Zealand 2021, cou­pled with the enor­mous stage that the Olympics pro­vides, will cham­pion that mantra in a golden year for women in rugby and a year of cel­e­bra­tion for our sport.

‘‘I am con­fi­dent that New Zealand will be a very spe­cial and suc­cess­ful tour­na­ment, and prepa­ra­tions are on track to support my con­fi­dence. New Zealand does rugby events very well, New Zealan­ders love women's rugby, and we are chal­leng­ing New Zealan­ders to set a new at­ten­dance record,’’ he said. — RNZ/Reuters

 ??  ?? Eloise Black­well
Eloise Black­well

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