World Rugby has announced dates for the rescheduled Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe qualifier following the postponement of the tournament as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.
The winner of the RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier will secure a place at Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, in New Zealand, which takes place between 8 October–12 November, 2022.
Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe qualifying tournament will take place on 13, 19 and 25 September, 2021 in Parma’s Stadio “Sergio Lanfranchi”, Italy, home of the Zebre Rugby Club.
Spain claimed their spot in the Qualifier with an assured performance in the Rugby Europe Championship 2020, where they comprehensively defeated Russia and the Netherlands to lift the title.
They will now take on Italy, Ireland and Scotland in a round robin format.
The tournament promises to showcase some of Europe’s finest talents in action and will be seen as a great opportunity to give the women’s game increased exposure.
The top team will book a spot in Group B at Rugby World Cup 2021 with the runner up will enter the Final Qualification Tournament.
Nine teams have already booked their spot for Rugby World Cup 2021, including New Zealand, England, France, Canada, USA, Australia and Wales, who qualified through their final ranking at Ireland 2017, and South Africa and Fiji who qualified through the regional qualification tournaments.
Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Alison Hughes, said: “We are pleased to be able to share the details of the rescheduled Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe qualifier. The global disruption caused by COVID-19 has been frustrating for all unions still within the pathway but we appreciate the patience and flexibility shown by our unions and their efforts to ensure the qualification process can be completed safely and fairly. Next year’s Rugby World Cup is shaping up to be a truly spectacular event and we can’t wait to see the world’s top women’s 15s players take the stage in New Zealand.”
Marzio Innocenti, FIR President, said: “Our successful bid for hosting the European RWC 2021 qualifier perfectly witnesses once more the Italian rugby resilience. We faced an unprecedented struggle over the last months, never keeping our heads down and being focused and questioning ourselves how to retake full control of our destiny, while keeping health and safety of each of our players and Clubs at the very core of our commitment. We developed world-class protocols and procedures, which World Rugby recognized in assigning to Italy the Rugby World Cup Qualifier which will entitle one European team to compete in New Zealand in 2022.
“As FIR President I can’t and won’t hide we’re extremely proud for hosting the event, a pride I want to share with every single Italian rugby player. I’d also want to thank the Emilia-Romagna Region, the Parma’s municipality, the Zebre and the local Clubs for immediately making themselves available to host, support and make this event the best possible one for the Teams.
“Our Ladies built their international credibility over the years, earning respect from their opponents on the test arena and a brilliant place in the World Rugby ranking, boosting the growth of the Game in our Country and across the whole Italian sporting community. I do know how brilliant this bunch of women is, and how strong is the bond between the players and their coach Andrea Giandomenico: they will go on to the end in playing their chances to reach the qualification and represent our Country and our jersey later in 2022 in such an iconic rugby country, as I had the privilege to do when I skippered Italy at the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup. Shouldn’t it be the case, credit to the RWC Qualifier winner which will be however bringing a little piece of Italy to New Zealand with them. Maybe, the Final Qualification Tournament will give us a further chance. Go Azzurre!"
Full match schedule for the RWC 2021 Europe qualifier and details in relation to the Final Qualification Tournament will be announced at a later stage.