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Stars can't wait for World Cup to arrive in Belfast

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 26/08/2016

Home comforts: Niamh Briggs wants to see big crowds in Belfast
Home comforts: Niamh Briggs wants to see big crowds in Belfast

With today marking one year until the Women's Rugby World Cup final is played in Belfast's Kingspan Stadium, the countdown to the global showpiece is well and truly on.

Back in 2014, Ireland made history by recording a first ever victory over New Zealand on their way to a place in the semi-finals of the tournament played in France.

Eventually beaten by champions England, captain Niamh Briggs is hoping next year will prove to be an even more memorable occasion.

Having played their first autumn international last season, both England and Canada will visit in November, while the Six Nations provides another chance for fine tuning before the tournament, and Briggs is eagerly anticipating seeing the spectacle on home soil.

"It is hard to believe that it is just one year to the final of the Women's Rugby World Cup in the magnificent Kingspan Stadium," said the Munster full-back.

"We have a huge year ahead of us, starting with the November internationals in UCD and followed by the Six Nations, and we will be looking to continue building from there so that we are peaking for the World Cup.

"I am delighted that we will play in Kingspan Stadium on both the semi-finals and finals day and I'm sure that supporters will have two great days out."

Having won the right to host back in 2015, it has been agreed that the pool stages will be held in Dublin's UCD before the semi-finals and final move north to Queen's Sport and Kingspan Stadium.

Tickets for the knock-out stages are on sale now and those for the earlier games are set to be made available early next year.

With the tournament only expected to quicken the sport's growth, out-half Nora Stapleton believes the guarantee that Ireland will play twice in front of a Belfast crowd should ensure healthy ticket sales.

"The momentum is really starting to build now with the logo launched and the finals tickets now on sale," said the Donegal native.

"It is fantastic that, as hosts and due to the structure of the tournament, Ireland are guaranteed to play in front of home supporters on both the semi-finals and finals day in Kingspan Stadium.

"With two fantastic days of rugby, fun and celebration guaranteed in Belfast, I would urge all Irish rugby fans to snap up these great priced tickets fast."

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