Fiona Coghlan: "It's really ruthless" - the Women's Rugby World Cup pool system

Ireland are hosting the event in 2017

BY Simon Maguire 19:09 Friday 9 December 2016, 19:09 9 Dec 2016

Ireland captain Niamh Briggs, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 Ambassador Fiona Coghlan and Ireland's Nora Stapleton Image: ©INPHO/Darren Kidd

With Ireland due to host the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, we caught up with former Ireland captain and World Cup ambassador Fiona Coghlan to discuss her role and her hopes for the tournament.

Speaking about her role to she said: "I came in before we actually got the World Cup. I came in just before the initial bid phase and I suppose it was to see what had been successful in past World Cups and what areas needed to improve that could be part of our tender going into World Rugby and thankfully we got the bid so I'm still sitting on the advisory committee for it.

"Going forward we have an ambassadors program running where we are trying to get people on the ground in communities being ambassadors in their communities and I'm kind of the lead of that. 

"There will be a good bit of work involved between now and before the World Cup starts to drum up support and publicity around it and just get as many people involved as possible on the ground and get more numbers playing in the lead up and then the legacy out of it as well."

Women's Rugby World Cup ambassador Fiona Coghlan (second from right) at the pool draw in November. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The tournament will have three groups of four teams which can lead to an unfair qualifying system. Asked whether the competition should be expanded to four groups of four, Coghlan said: "I don't just think a fairer pool system. I think before that even just to give more countries the opportunity to qualify for a World Cup.

"I know in the likes of Africa, Kenya and Uganda's program is gone...It's a bit in disarray at the moment because they don't have the opportunity to qualify for a World Cup.

"We only had 18 teams looking to qualify this year. Really strong teams that had 15s programs in the past, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Samoa not even looking to qualify. We need to look at that prior to worrying about a fairer pool system.

"The level of competition looking to qualify needs to improve so that when they come in, if we do get to four pools, you're not getting walk-over games with cricket scores because I don't think that's good for the game. It's not good for either team at any level.

"But then ultimately if we get to that point obviously it will be brilliant because it's really ruthless - the pool system as it is at the moment. You have to win basically every game to ensure you get out of your pool," she added. 

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and Ireland's Niamh Briggs. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Looking ahead to the tournament and her hopes about what the IRFU can bring to it, she said: "We have stated that we want this to be the best Woman's World Cup ever. It kind of has to be because I've been to three World Cups and everyone has been better than the last, particular peaking in France...everything surrounding it was another notch up. It showed there was a real appetite out there for the women's game." 

Asked about Ireland's 2023 bid and how a successful Women's tournament might aid our bid, the former Ireland captain said: "I hope so. The date of that decision was moved. It was originally supposed to be May 2017 and it's been moved to November 2017.

"I'm not sure the reason for the move but hosting a successful women's world cup can't do any harm," she added. 

The Women's Rugby World Cup is due to kick off in exactly eight months time with Ireland drawn in the same pool as France, Australia and another qualifier from the Asia/Oceania region. 


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