The Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks-off in Ireland on August 9 and Oceania Rugby will be represented by Australia and New Zealand in the 12-team, three pool tournament.
New Zealand will play in Pool A with Canada, Hong Kong and Wales. Australia is in Pool C with France, Ireland and Japan. The remaining Pool B comprises England, Italy, Spain and USA.
Click HERE for the official tournament website
The long wait is almost over for the 12 participating teams with defending champions England and Spain to meet in the opening match of Women's Rugby World Cup 2017, a tournament that sees Hong Kong make their debut.
With Ireland 2017 promising to be the most competitive tournament to date, the 12 participating teams have left no stone unturned in their preparations over the last weeks and months.
England arrived in Ireland as the team to beat, being not only the defending champions and the only full-time professional squad, but also now the number one side in the World Rugby Women's Rankings.
However, four-time champions New Zealand, 2014 runners-up Canada, perennial semi-finalists France and host nation Ireland are among the teams with title aspirations of their own and no team can afford to be off their game even a little with only the three pool winners guaranteed a place in the semi-finals at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on 22 August.
Australia captain Shannon Parry: “I think for us we have got a huge first-up game against Ireland and at the moment that is all we are focusing on. We have got to start off our World Cup campaign on a positive note and from there anything can happen.
“We are definitely looking at a top-four finish but it starts with that first game. We are not distancing ourselves too far into the tournament, at this point in time we are just focusing on Ireland and everything is focused on that."
Click HERE for Tournament fixtures
Click HERE for past tournament winners
New Zealand captain Fiao'o Faamausili: “We are looking great, we are feeling excited. It has finally hit us that it is the World Cup because we are all under the same roof with all the other countries. We have done our work, the hard work has been done so we have just got to go out there and make sure that we perform.
“They talk about us losing the last World Cup in 2014, I look at it as you never lose, either you win or you learn. It is not a great feeling of losing but it was a good thing for us to look back, to reflect on our team and to make sure that we start rebuilding and that this what we have done. We have got new players, new talent coming through so it’s new to those girls and we want to get them a victory in the World Cup.”
Canada captain Kelly Russell: “Definitely great memories from 2014, for sure. There are a lot of girls returning from that squad, but we have a great mix of new energy coming in as well. We are on a different journey at this 2017 World Cup with a new team but the focus is the same, we are going to take it one game at a time but the goal is to win this World Cup and take it one step further than the last one.”
England captain Sarah Hunter: “We are reigning champions but that has been and gone. We’re very proud of that and have achieved that but this is a new squad in terms of players and management and the 28 here are one of 11 other teams that are going to go on and try and win it. We’re very much of the mindset that we’re here to win a competition not retain a trophy we won in 2014.
“We’re very excited to get the first game underway and focusing on that first game against Spain on Wednesday.”
Hong Kong captain Chow Mei Nam: “It is the first time to be here and be in a World Cup. The Hong Kong team is ready for it. We want to take that challenge and see where we are. I think it (qualifying for the World Cup) is very important for rugby development. Hong Kong is a small city but we want to develop this sport in Hong Kong, so we come here to create our legacy and then move back to Hong Kong and raise the level there.”
Ireland captain Claire Molloy: “I think the mood is just excited. We are just raring to go, we just want to play our first game. It has been a long time coming, you prepare for a World Cup basically for three years and you are waiting for this one game to play so it is kind of electric.
“The excitement is in the air, I think all the teams you can feel it off them, everyone is raring to go and just wants to get that first game, that first kick, first tackle done so it is very exciting stuff.”
USA captain Tiffany Faaee: “I think everyone is excited, everyone is really ready to just get out there and put on the field what we have been practising. We are excited because there is a lot of new players in our squad, it’s a very young team, and we have actually not taken the field as the same squad before so this will be the first time.
“For a month we have been in San Diego training at the Olympic Training Center and it has been good. It has been hard, it has been intense and under this training there are a lot of adjustments that a lot of the girls had to do, but when we are running around now we know it was worthwhile to have that extra time together. The team feels tight, and once we get on that field that is when we can look at how we can step it up further.”
Wales captain Carys Phillips: “We have got a tough pool, with the short turnaround it is going to be a tough tournament but these tournaments only come around every four years so we are really looking forward to it.
“They (New Zealand) have got a good history but it is a great start for us to play against one of the best teams in the world to showcase where we are at in the world as well. I think when you progress through these tournaments you are going to have to face the best in the world at some point anyway so it is good for us to get them first up. Obviously it is a big challenge, we know that, but one we are looking forward to and preparing well for.”