Rugby World Cup 2021 sheds gender prefix


New Zealand Rugby - World Cup 2021 Image: World Rugby/New Zealand Rugby

World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby have confirmed the three venues that will host matches as the Kiwis’ country gets ready to host the 2021 Rugby World Cup (RWC). The tournament heads to the southern hemisphere for the first time.

World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. World Rugby organises the Rugby World Cup every four years. New Zealand Rugby is the governing body of rugby union in New Zealand.

The women’s event will be held at crème de la crème venues – Waitakere Stadium in Henderson, Whangarei’s Northland Events Centre and Auckland’s Eden Park in New Zealand. The draw for the tournament will take place later this year.

World Rugby announced last year that it would be dropping the gender prefix from its women’s tournaments to make certain that everybody gets a level playing field and that all of its competitions boast equal billing from a brand perspective, regardless of gender. The 2021 Women’s World Cup will be the first tournament under the new model and will be known simply as Rugby World Cup 2021.

The championships will start off with pool matches to be played at Waitakere Stadium and Northland Events Centre on September 18, 2021. The two facilities will then host two more days of pool matches as well as the quarter-finals on October 3, before Eden Park plays host to the semi-finals on October 9 and the bronze match and final will be held on October 16. The quarter-finals, which are a new addition to the women’s competition for RWC 2021, will take place on October 3 at the said venues.

Remarked World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, “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.” He was all praise for the preparations going on for the event.

Rugby World Cup 2021 follows a hugely successful 2017 event in Ireland which broke attendance and broadcast records, having a hugely positive impact on women’s rugby. Last year we successfully launched ‘Try and Stop Us’, a campaign that aims to drive increased participation and engagement among fans, audiences, players and investors in the women’s game,” Beaumont maintained.

Last month, Eden Park was fixed as one of the host venues for the Women’s Cricket World Cup, which New Zealand will also stage in 2021.

The tournament brand was unlocked and stood for the power and growth of women’s rugby. It was unveiled recently in front of an august audience at Auckland’s Eden Park.

The tournament brand has been conceptualized by World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby in close conjunction with local cultural advisors. A statement in the World Rugby website read, “The RWC 2021 brand has the vitality and connectivity of the ocean’s waters at its heart and features the ‘Ngaru’ – a symbol of the ocean’s waves that surround New Zealand and the many shores that teams will travel from to compete in this ground-breaking tournament.”

Spark Sport – the premium live and on-demand sport streaming service that facilitates fans to watch on their devices or on the big screen – has been declared as the host broadcast rights holder.

For the Kiwis, all games will be broadcast live and on demand by Spark Sport, with selected games to be televised free-to-air.

Beaumont, Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Alison Hughes and General Manager of Women’s Rugby Kate Sadleir visited the facilities to help the host venues and host cities get their act together for the southern hemisphere’s first hosting of the showcase tournament.

“It is a privilege to be here in New Zealand and to see the huge amount of work that has already gone into ensuring this will be another spectacular tournament for the world’s best women’s teams,” Beaumont further commented.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson stated, “A lot of logistical preparation is required for hosting one of World Rugby’s pinnacle events.”

Robinson further averred, “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. The Black Ferns love playing at home and I know they are excited at the prospect of retaining the Rugby World Cup at home.”

“Together with the support from the Central Government, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, and Whangarei District Council we are committed to working alongside World Rugby to deliver an exciting event that continues to grow the game and deliver benefits for rugby in New Zealand and globally,” he stated.

“As part of the bid team that presented to World Rugby in Dublin in 2018, it is now a real privilege to continue to be involved in the delivery of the tournament and to see preparations come to life. We share World Rugby’s global ambition of getting more women and girls involved in rugby and RWC 2021 is a great way to showcase women’s rugby at an elite level and provide inspiration for boys and girls to get involved in our game,” Robinson affirmed.

The Black Ferns are New Zealand’s senior women’s rugby team and the most dominant team in women’s rugby lifting Women’s Rugby World Cup titles in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2017. They have one of the best winning percentages in international rugby.

The statement on the World Rugby website further stated that Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2021 will be the first RWC to adopt a gender-neutral naming approach after World Rugby announced last year that its flagship 15s and sevens RWC properties will no longer include gender in their titles, furthering its commitment to equality and brand consistency across its portfolio.

Beaumont added, “We are proud that RWC has adopted a gender-neutral naming approach to its properties – a bold and important move – and we are looking forward to seeing this come to life following the unveiling of the tournament brand.”

RWC 2021 Organising Committee Chair Dame Julie Christie opined, “New Zealand Rugby is highly experienced in the operational planning and delivery of world class events with sustainable commercial returns and plans are already well on track to make RWC 2021 an outstanding event.”

The RWC 2021 supports World Rugby’s Women’s Plan 2017-25, New Zealand Rugby’s Women’s Rugby Strategy and the New Zealand Government’s Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy.

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