Ireland’s ladies aiming for the knock-on effect

by Alen McMahon

Tournament director Garrett Tubridy has outlined lofty aims for the coming months, explaining how he hopes the Women’s Rugby World Cup – set to be hosted in Ireland in the summer of 2017 – will have a knock on effect in participation across women’s sport.
“We feel a responsibility beyond rugby to make sure this competition is a success,” Tubridy told GazetteSport.
“We want people in other sports to see what we do and think if Ireland can host a Women’s Rugby World Cup to that level, we want our federations to do the same for our sport.
“We’ve opened up connections to other sports. We’re very conscious of taking advantage of this moment, and giving the chance for other sports to capitalise on it.
“The men have never hosted a Rugby World Cup in Ireland. That’s what we have. All the Ireland games will be on TV, and it’ll introduce the sport to a whole new generation.
“Programs are being put in place to take advantage of the increased interest we’re hoping to see; to have a knock on effect. It’s all about participation.”
Speaking of growing profile of the game, Tubridy explained: “It was obviously big having women’s Rugby Sevens in the Olympics. People are starting to see that women’s rugby is about athleticism, about commitment, and at a really high level.
“We’re convinced that the more people come to games, the more will come back. We’re also setting up games in Dublin and up in Northern Ireland for visitors to actually play in.
“We’ve had people getting in touch saying they want to play games while they’re here. The tag line is going to be ‘Bring It’. Bring the flags, bring the passion, bring the support. But bring the boots, too.”
There will be no single games at the tournament – every ticket will take in a series of matches, with as many as six games taking place across a single day during the group stages.
Three groups of four will see the group winners and the best second-placed side qualify for the semifinals, but all twelve teams will continue in the tournament as they play for position. Even the finals in Belfast will see three games back-to-back.
“We’ll be having a number of games on one campus at one time, either in UCD or at Queen University and Kingspan Breffni in Belfast, so people can make a day of it, and we can create an atmosphere, which has worked well for women’s rugby in the past,” Tubridy said.
“The pool draw [which takes place as The Gazette goes to print] is a real big milestone in preparation for the tournament. After that we’ll go to broadcasters and do the fixture schedule. There’ll be three match days in UCD with six matches each day across two pitches, then we move to Belfast for the semis and final.”
There’ll be a host of volunteer positions and ambassadorial positions on offer alongside the games, which can be applied for via IrishRugby.ie, with Tubridy keen to tap into the same local enthusiasm and friendly welcome he felt made the London Olympics special.
“We think that for people who couldn’t make it to to Chicago over the weekend, for example, they’ll come out to this. That’s how we’re setting it up. For the team it’s huge to be playing a World Cup on home soil.
“We’ll make it affordable for families. A success for us is increasing the profile of women’s rugby. It’s also about making the most memorable Women’s World Cup ever.”
Ireland play the current world top three, England, Canada and New Zealand in UCD this month. Tickets for the Women’s World Cup Final and Semifinals, which both take place in Belfast in August, are on sale now. Group stages (set to take place at UCD) go on sale in early January.

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