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This year's Women's Rugby World Cup is set to be deferred for a year.

New Zealand is scheduled to host the ninth edition of the tournament from September 18 to October 16 this year.

However, the tournament will be delayed by twelve months on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

World Rugby say, "Given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage."

Ireland - who host the World Cup in 2017 - are yet to confirm their place at the next finals.

Adam Griggs' side are due to face Spain in a de facto qualification semi-final on March 13. It follows Spain's 87-0 victory over the Netherlands on Saturday.

If Ireland beat Spain they'll next face either Scotland or Italy for a place in Pool B. That would guarantee matches with the United States and Canada.

IRFU Director of Women' Rugby Anthony Eddy said the association back World Rugby's decision, adding, "We’re obviously disappointed, we want to play rugby.

"We have always put player welfare at the heart of everything we do and that’s never been as important as it has over the past 12 months.

"We were preparing really well and that will stand to us now and we’ll maintain that focus into the 2021 Women’s Six Nations."

World Rugby statement: 

World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year.

The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.

While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.

The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.  

The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions. 

World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.

Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.  

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