The dates and venues for the tournaments that will complete the draw for next year’s World Cup have been revealed
Three places remain to be filled in the draw for the 2017 World Cup, and 11 teams will be competing for them.
One place remains, seven teams competing.
Five places have already been taken by European teams – Ireland, England, France, Wales and Italy. The winner of Rugby Europe’s Women’s Championship will play off against Scotland for a sixth European place.
First phase: Rugby Europe Women’s Championship
Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands (seeded in that order) will compete in a tournament in Madrid from 9th to 15th October. Sweden, who played in the 1991, 1994, 1998 and 2010 World Cups, and the 2014 qualifier, did not enter this time.
The seeding may seem a little odd as it largely ignores World Rugby’s rankings which rank Spain (9) and Netherlands (15) significantly higher than the other teams. Instead it is based on last year’s European Trophy, won by Belgium, which Spain and the Netherlands did not compete in. The rankings only seem to have been used to give Spain precedence over the Dutch.
However, (and fortunately) the resulting pools are almost the same as those that would have been expected from the rankings, the only difference being that Rugby Europe’s methodology results in the Swiss and Czechs being placed in different pools than they would otherwise have been.
Pool A: Belgium v Spain
Pool B: Switzerland v Netherlands
Pool A: Czech Republic v Spain
Pool B: Russia v Netherlands
Pool A: Belgium v Czech Republic
Pool B: Switzerland v Russia
Final, Third Place, and Fifth place play-offs
Second phase: Play-off v Scotland
A two-legged playoff, home and away, between the winner of Rugby Europe’s Women’s Championship, and Scotland. This must take place before the end of November and the expected dates are:
First leg: 18/19 November
Second leg: 25/26 November
Two places, four teams competing
This qualification series was originally supposed to include South Africa, but they withdrew from the process earlier this year. Uganda and Kenya – who took part in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers – were not allowed to enter this time by World Rugby due to insufficient domestic club fifteens rugby. Kazakhstan – Asia’s representative in every World Cup since 1994 – also withdrew from the process during the summer, and Samoa, who played in the 2002, 2006 and 2014 World Cups, and the 2010 Oceania qualifier, did not enter.
First phase: Oceania play-off
Unconfirmed press reports from Fiji suggest that this will be a single game:
5th November: Fiji v Papua New Guinea (Suva)
This will be Papua New Guinea’s first ever test match, and Fiji’s third. It will also be Fiji’s first test since 2006, and the first officially recognised international women’s rugby match (sevens or fifteens) to be played in Fiji.
Second phase: Asia/Oceania Qualifier
A three team pool, to be played in Hong Kong. The top two teams will qualify.
9th December: Hong Kong v Japan
13th December: Japan v Fiji or Papua New Guinea
17th December: Hong Kong v Fiji or Papua New Guinea