Despite the delay on the announcement, the IRB have done the right thing in appointing the 2014 Womens Rugby World Cup to France, says Ali Donnelly.
Back in 2009, the IRB announced that four nations had progressed to the second stage of the tender process to be hosts of the 2014 edition, but just a few months later decided to open up the process to other nations while New Zealand withdrew their bid in favour of Samoa.
In my view, only two of the countries that we know were for sure involved in the bidding should and could have been awarded this tournament France and USA.
There is merit in the view that the IRB should look away from Europe for this competition, especially considering that five out of six of their World Cups have been held there, but the success of Englands hosting meant that the tournament simply had to go to a nation who could guarantee momentum and improvement.
England showed in 2010 that with excellent facilities, marketing and organisation the womens game could absolutely be attractive to a wider audience and media than is usually interested in the game. The 2010 World Cup was by far the best of its kind and the audience it captivated by what they saw. The word momentum is often bandied about in sport but here is it crucial.
The Womens World Cup is such a vital window for the game that it must improve every time it is held and it must ensure it generates as large a profile as possible while its in the spotlight. Sending the competition to Kazakhstan or Samoa would make that impossible as neither could ensure that the kind of media or public attention that nations like England and France could feasibly generate.
USA would also have been worthy hosts in my view. The womens game there is in a healthy state and they are well used to hosting multi-game competitions such as the Nations Cup.
France will in no doubt put on a good show. Anyone who has been to a Six Nations game there will know just how well the French run major international womens game. Paris is an attractive accessible location and the FFR should have no trouble attracting a broadcasting partner.
A final reason why I believe it was crucial to hand the 2014 World Cup to a major rugby nation is about timing.
The next World Cup comes at a crucial juncture for the sport. In 2013 the Sevens World Cup will once again shine a light on the short form of the game and one must assume that by 2014 the major nations will have well established their Olympic 7s path.
There has always been a risk that the 15 aside womens game could seriously suffer by the defection of interest from women and young girls to the 7s game and by 2014 the womens game will more than ever need a strong 15s World Cup to showcase the sport.
The game is on the right track to achieving this.
Previous hosts of Women's Rugby World Cup
- Wales (1991)
- Scotland (1994)
- Netherlands (1998)
- Spain (2002)
- Canada (2006)
- England (2010)