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Dublin: 5°C Monday 8 March 2021
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Excitement builds as Ireland prepares to host the biggest-ever World Cup party

The Women’s Rugby World Cup was officially launched in Dublin this morning and the tournament is expected to be the biggest ever.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with the captains from the 12 competing nations in Dublin this morning.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with the captains from the 12 competing nations in Dublin this morning.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from UCD

THERE’S USUALLY NOT a lot of activity on campus at this time of year, but whichever way you look around UCD there’s some form of reminder that the Women’s Rugby World Cup has arrived in town.

From the sight of the temporary structure of Billings Park as you enter via Clonskeagh Road or the cavalcade of official tournament buses lined up outside the student accommodation, UCD has been transformed, taken over and ready to play host to one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

All twelve teams have now arrived and have taken up residence on the Belfield campus ahead of the opening matchday of the tournament on Wednesday, with the official launch taking place this morning.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed the captains and coaches of all competing nations, along with World Rugby dignitaries, to Government Buildings as the formalities and pleasantries before the serious business begins enters its final few days.

With tickets for the pool stages now sold out, the TV compound opposite the Sports Centre populated by trucks from around the world and over 350 media personnel expected on site throughout the tournament, the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup will be the biggest yet.

When defending champions England face Spain in the tournament opener on Wednesday afternoon, the match will be broadcast in 110 countries while over 16,000 fans are expected in UCD over the course of the three matchdays.

A general view of a Women's Rugby World Cup ball being signed The 2017 WRWC is expected to be the biggest-ever. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Ireland’s three games at the Belfield Bowl will be played in front of capacity crowds as well as being shown live on both RTÉ and eir Sport with requests for media accreditation also reaching unprecedented levels.

Organisers have done an excellent job of marketing and promoting the tournament but this World Cup has sold itself on the back of huge advances in the women’s game and an incredible swell of interest in the fortunes of Tom Tierney’s Ireland.

The squad assembled in Dublin yesterday and have now entered full World Cup mode as they prepare to enter battle with the expectations of a nation on their shoulders and the added pressure which comes with being hosts.

“There’s great excitement amongst the squad, it’s just great to be up and running now,” head coach Tierney said earlier.

“It has been a long time waiting over the course of the summer but now it’s finally here and we can’t wait.”

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Ireland trained in UCD yesterday and had another session in the driving rain this afternoon as they finalise and fine-tune preparations for Wednesday’s Pool C showdown with Australia.

All the hard work is now done but the final build-up can so often be the most difficult as the nerves begin to set in and the sense of anticipation reaches an intoxicating climax.

With extra seating installed and over 3,000 expected inside the Belfield Bowl on Wednesday evening, the place will be rocking and the atmosphere electric as Ireland begin their campaign under the lights at 7pm.

A view of the press conference A view of today's launch in UCD. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The finishing touches to the two venues, as well as the fanzone, were still being made on Sunday but already the set-up is impressive and it’s clear organisers have made an effort to make the spectator experience as memorable as possible.

The tournament will move on to Belfast for the knockout stages but for now, all eyes are on UCD for what promises to be an extraordinary sporting spectacle years in the making.

As Claire Molloy and her team-mates ready themselves to launch their World Cup tilt on home soil with the whole nation behind them, all of the hard work off the field is taking shape as Ireland prepares to stand up and show off to the world.

Three days and counting.

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Ryan Bailey

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