The IRFU have outlined details of the upcoming women’s rugby season which they hope will provide the perfect preparation for Ireland’s bid to qualify for the 2021 World Cup which takes place in New Zealand.
Ireland’s disappointing showing at the 2017 World Cup which was held on home soil resulted in them missing out on automatic qualification for 2021 and as result, their passage relies on a qualification tournament in September of next year.
That tournament will see Ireland take on Scotland, Italy and the winner of the 2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Championship. The winner of this competition qualifies for the World Cup in 2021.
It would be a huge setback for women’s rugby if Ireland fail to qualify for the World Cup and as a result, the IRFU have formulated a season which they will hope will give Adam Griggs’ side the best possible chance of emerging victorious next September.
The season spans 13 months which begins in August with a national camp being held before an extended, five-week interprovincial series.
The Energia Women’s All-Ireland League kicks off in October and this will run alongside a series of national camps ahead of two international Test matches which will take place in November, the details of which have yet to be confirmed.
The AIL will then take over before further national camps and training matches ahead of the 2020 Six Nations.
Cup and league competitions in the AIL will close out the season after the Six Nations and national players will be managed during a four-week period to close out the month of May.
Throughout the summer and culminating in the end of August, there will be nine national camps including training games ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifying tournament which takes place in September.
“We have really good clarity on what we feel we need as a group to achieve our goal of qualifying for Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021,” head coach Adam Griggs said.
“Over the coming months, we must keep developing as a playing group while at the same time understand how important it will be to manage our playing resources so that we are can hit the ground running in September 2020.
“The structure of the season allows us to see the players in a number of different environments and the increased number of national camps and games will be hugely beneficial as we build towards next September as will a comprehensive summer programme working together as a squad ahead of the qualification games.”
However, if Ireland fails to win the competition next September, there will be one last opportunity to qualify for the World Cup but this depends on them finishing second.
If they finish second, they will be entered into a Repechage competition which will see the second-placed teams in the Asia, Europe and Oceania regional tournaments, as well as the winner of the play-off between South America, compete with the second-placed team from the Africa regional qualifier. The winner of this will secure the last spot for the World Cup.