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Ireland will host Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 - with the final at Belfast's Kingspan Stadium

By Claire Cromie

Ireland has been selected to host the Women's Rugby World Cup in August 2017 - with the finals in Belfast.

The tournament pool stages will be held at University College Dublin, before moving to Belfast for semi-finals and finals at Queen’s University Sport and Kingspan Stadium.

It is a huge coup for Ireland and the women's team - who are the current Six Nations champions.

Ireland caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Women's Rugby World Cup last year when they consigned New Zealand to their first defeat in the competition for 23 years, before being beaten by eventual champions England in the semis.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Women’s Rugby World Cup continues to go from strength to strength, proving a hit with fans, broadcasters and sponsors around the globe, with its compelling, competitive action and global profile.

“With impressive results on and off the field, the IRFU is a leader in driving forward the promotion and development of women’s rugby and the union’s passion, dedication and expertise in women’s rugby was reflected in an impressive and forward think.

“The awarding of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 to Ireland is great news for teams and fans as the sport continues to reach out and inspire new participants in our great game. I am sure that Dublin and Belfast will prove to be popular destinations.”

There are now more than 1.7 million women and girls playing the sport (an increase of 20 per cent on 2014), while women’s rugby also continues to experience record growth in popularity, attendance and media exposure driven by the success of Women’s Rugby World Cup and Olympic Games inclusion.

Ireland has been at the forefront of the success story, winning the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013 and claiming the Six Nations title in 2015.

Ireland's ability to stage the Women's World Cup successfully could prove vital in a successful bid to host the men's event in 2023.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said she applauded all those involved in the bid to bring the Women’s World Cup to Ireland.

“We have shown that we can host major sporting events in recent years. This is another opportunity to welcome competitors and supporters from across the globe to these shores

"A year since it opened, Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill has witnessed plenty of memorable moments. I have no doubt this worthy venue for world-class rugby will see many more as it hosts the best teams on the planet."

Shane Logan, CEO of Ulster Rugby, said: "Kingspan Stadium is one of the premier rugby venues in Europe in a city that is passionate about rugby so we are confident of staging a great festival of rugby in August 2017.”

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