The Springbok Women have a little over 19 months to prepare for the 2021 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand as the tournament will kick off on 18 September.
World Rugby announced on Monday night that the global spectacle will run from 18 September to 16 October, with matches being spread across three venues, namely Waitakere Stadium, Whangarei’s Northland Events Centre, and Eden Park in Auckland.
The teams that have already qualified for RWC 2021 include Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and Wales, while another three teams will book their places this year.
The tournament will feature three pool rounds – on Saturday, 18 September; Thursday, 23 September; and Tuesday, 28 September, respectively. The quarter-finals will play out on Sunday, 3 October; the semi-finals on Saturday; 9 October and the final and bronze final on Saturday, 16 October.
‘Building a quality Springbok Women’s team and developing women’s rugby in general are among our top priorities at SA Rugby, so it was exciting to receive the dates for the 2021 Rugby World Cup,’ SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said.
‘Historically the Springbok Women have struggled in the RWC, and we would like to turn over a new leaf next year. That said we are aware that we are far behind the other countries, so the important thing for us is to show some growth as a team.’
Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer admits the announcement served as a reality check with an eye on the team’s preparations for the world showpiece.
‘It puts things into perspective in terms of the time frames we are working towards, and time is a challenge because it will pass by quickly. But it is good to know how long we have to put all the groundwork in place and work with the players.
‘The most important short-term goals are to assess the injuries and get the players back on the field as soon as they recover, and then we need to get the players who are training to reach the level we would like them to be at. We also need to put together a good group of players to work with in the lead-up to the competition, so we can grow a quality team in the months to come.’
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images