England drawn in same pool as rivals France for 2021 RWC

Tanya Simon
November 22, 2020

England Women's head coach Simon Middleton has conceded it will not be "logistically possible" for his side to face off with World Champions New Zealand in a tournament warm-up game ahead of next year's World Cup.

Beaumont, who is unable to attend the draw because of ongoing travel restrictions as a effect of the pandemic, believes that New Zealand 2021, backed by the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, will raise the bar on and off the field.

Hosts and defending champions Black Ferns have been drawn in Pool A with trans-Tasman rivals Australia, Wales and the Final Qualification Tournament victor.

The North American sides will be joined by qualifiers from Asia and Europe in Pool B for the September 18-Oct.

Rugby World Cup 2017 runners-up England were drawn in Pool C with bronze medallists France, South Africa and Fiji, who are set to make their tournament debut.

Black Ferns captain Eloise Blackwell said she was looking forward to facing their traditional rivals the Wallaroos. "We had all that lined up for the autumn internationals - we should have been in Australia and New Zealand now".

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World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont, who could not be in attendance owing to the ongoing global pandemic, voiced confidence in New Zealand Rugby to deliver a game-changing event to supercharge women's rugby globally. "We are committed to a spectacular Rugby World Cup 2021 and we can't wait to welcome all 12 teams to Aotearoa New Zealand".

With semi-professional France now failing to register a win over England since the start of 2018, next year's World Cup in New Zealand - the first in the southern hemisphere - is likely to boil down to a two-horse race between the Red Roses and the Black Ferns. It is the first time a women's final will be played at a stadium which has hosted a men's final.

"Pre-COVID-19 this tournament was going to be important to New Zealand", Ardern said.

'New Zealand 2021, coupled with the enormous stage that the Olympics provides, will champion that mantra in a golden year for women in rugby and a year of celebration for our sport'.

"An opportunity to break down gender discrimination in sport".

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