World Rugby has announced that the 2021 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand is set to be postponed until next year due to ‘the uncertain and challenging global Covid-19 landscape’.
The 2021 World Cup was scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September and 16 October. World Rugby’s recommendation will be considered and ratified 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,’ a statement from World Rugby read.
‘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. ‘
While acknowledging delaying the event until 2022 was ‘hugely disappointing’, World Rugby interim chief executive Alan Gilpin said it was the right thing to do.
‘Certainly this decision has players at heart,’ Gilpin said. ‘In recent weeks, through discussions with our key partners in New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand government, it’s become clear that we do not have the level of certainty we need to collectively deliver the best environment for all teams.’
Gilpin cited recent Covid-19 cases in Auckland which have forced New Zealand’s largest city into lockdown this week, despite the South Pacific nation’s previous success in containing the virus. He also said there were concerns ‘challenging’ global travel restrictions meant teams would not have adequate preparation time for such an important tournament.
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