WELLINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The women’s Rugby World Cup final will be held at one of the game’s major venues for the first time next year when Eden Park in Auckland stages the title-decider of the ninth edition, organisers said on Tuesday.
The semi-finals and bronze medal match at the first women’s World Cup to be held in the southern hemisphere will also be held at New Zealand’s largest sports stadium, which has a capacity of 50,000 and hosted the 1987 and 2011 men’s finals.
World Rugby has high hopes that next year’s tournament, which will run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 16, will build on the success of the 2017 edition in Ireland, which set records for attendance and television viewership.
“Women’s rugby is the single-biggest opportunity to grow the global game and we are confident that New Zealand 2021 will be one of the great Rugby World Cups, attracting a new fan and player base for the sport,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in Auckland on Tuesday.
The draw for the tournament will be held later this year when New Zealand, England, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, Wales, South Africa, Fiji will be joined by three more nations to take the total number of teams to 12.
While the United States beat England in the first women’s World Cup final in front of 3,000 fans at Cardiff Arms Park in 1991, New Zealand’s victory over England in 2017 attracted more than 17,000 to Belfast’s Ravenhill Stadium.
New Zealand’s Black Ferns have won five of the last six global women’s titles and will be strong favourites to add another to their haul on home soil next year.
“This is an event we are very excited to be hosting and we can’t wait to have the world’s best women’s teams play here,” said New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson.
“The Black Ferns love playing at home and I know they are excited at the prospect of retaining the Rugby World Cup at home.” (Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford )
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