Women's Rugby World Cup: Everything You Need to Know
The Women’s Rugby World Cup gets under way in France on Friday, with 12 nations vying for glory.
New Zealand arrive as holders following their narrow 13-10 win over England in 2010, with the Red Roses looking to gain revenge and lift the trophy for the first time since 1994.
The Black Ferns have claimed the last three World Cups, all via final defeats of England.
The tournament plays out over two-and-a-half weeks with game split between the administrative centre of French rugby, Marcoussis, and Stade Jean-Bouin, home of Stade Francais in Paris, where the final will take place on August 17.
Here are the details.
All times BST
Matchday 1: August 1
12 p.m. New Zealand vs. Kazakhstan
2 p.m. Canada vs. Spain
2.45 p.m. Australia vs. South Africa (Sky Sports 3)
4 p.m. USA vs. Ireland
5 p.m. England vs. Samoa (Sky Sports 3)
7.45 p.m. France vs. Wales (Sky Sports 3)
Matchday 2: August 5
12 p.m. USA vs. Kazakhstan
2 p.m. Australia vs. Wales
2.45 p.m. England vs. Spain (Sky Sports 1)
4 p.m. Canada vs. Samoa
5 p.m. New Zealand vs. Ireland (Sky Sports 1)
7.45 p.m. France vs. South Africa (Sky Sports 1)
Matchday 3: August 9
12 p.m. Ireland v Kazakhstan
2 p.m. Spain v Samoa
2.45 p.m. England v Canada (Sky Sports 1)
4 p.m. Wales v South Africa
5 p.m. New Zealand v USA (Sky Sports 1)
7.45 p.m. Australia v France (Sky Sports 1)
At the end of the pool phase teams will be seeded based on the position in which they finished in their respective pools. No one goes home, even if they finish bottom of their pool.
1st Seed: Pool winner with most competition points
2nd Seed: Pool winner with 2nd most competition points
3rd Seed: Pool winner with 3rd most competition points
4th Seed: Pool second place with most competition points
5th Seed: Pool second place with 2nd most competition points
6th Seed: Pool second place with 3rd most competition points
7th Seed: Pool third place with most competition points
8th Seed: Pool third place with 2nd most competition points
9th Seed: Pool third place with 3rd most competition points
10th Seed: Pool fourth place with most competition points
11th Seed: Pool fourth place with 2nd most competition points
12th Seed: Pool fourth place with 3rd most competition points
Matches are played to determine ranking in the tournament, with 10th playing 11th, 9th playing 12th, 5th playing 8th and 6th playing 7th, with the top four seeds playing the World Cup semi-finals.
Semi-final 1: 5 p.m. (Sky Sports 4)
Semi-final 2: 7.45 p.m. (Sky Sports 4)
Final: 5.45 p.m. (Sky Sports 4)
5 Players to Watch
Emily Scarratt, England
Centre Emily Scarratt has 29 tries in 50 caps for England and is regarded as one of the best centres anywhere in the women’s game. England coach Gary Street was full of praise for her in an interview with the Independent’s David Hands:
It’s the touch of magic. Sometimes she does things in training and the whole squad just stops, which embarrasses her because she’s a very humble individual. I would pay to watch her running around in training. It looks as though she doesn’t try but she has such a natural game, she has all the time she needs.
Fiao'o Fa'amausili, New Zealand
The hooker with the day job as an Auckland police officer is seen as the best No. 2 in the world and has led the world champions since 2012.
Alison Miller, Ireland
Miller has 11 tries in 18 matches for her country and was in fine form during the 2014 Six Nations with three tries. She made quite an impact in 2013 with a hat-trick in a 25-0 win over England as Ireland clinched a Grand Slam.
Mandy Marchak, Canada
Centre Mandy Marchak is a stalwart of the Canadian side, who stand a good chance of progressing as the best runner-up along with the three pool winners to make the semi-finals. Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press wrote:
Marchak, who made her debut for Canada in 2005, started off as winger and fullback before moving to centre. Her preference is outside centre but she has also played in the No. 12 shirt. She can beat opposing defenders but, if that doesn’t work, will also run over them. Marchak has played overseas, spending most of 2010-13 with the Saracens’ women’s side in England.
Safi N'Diaye, France
France beat England in this year’s Six Nations with N’Diaye playing at No. 8. She was part of the side that went on to claim the 2014 Grand Slam, announcing herself as a powerful young runner who could cause plenty of problems for opposition defences during the World Cup.