Ireland picked to host Women's Rugby World Cup
Ireland have been selected as the host nation for the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup for the first time in the competition's history.
The pool stages of the tournament will be held at University College Dublin (UCD) while the semi- finals, play-offs and final will be held at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
The decision to award the prestigious tournament to the IRFU crowns a sensational 12 months for the women's team, during which they caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Women's Rugby World Cup by beating New Zealand, a nation that had gone 23 years without losing in the competition.
They finished fourth at that tournament, their highest ever finish while also winning the Six Nations title this year, ahead of reigning world champions England.
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset described Ireland as a "leader in driving forward the promotion and development of women's rugby", while adding that he hoped the host cities would prove favourable with fans.
"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," he said.
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne expressed delight at the news, saying he hoped Ireland would host the best Women's Rugby World Cup ever.
"We are delighted with today's announcement. Interest and participation in women's rugby continues to grow and building on this momentum we believe Ireland can deliver the best Women's Rugby World Cup to-date," he said.
"We hope the growing interest in women's rugby in Ireland, world-leading facilities at UCD, Queen's University Sport, Kingspan Stadium and our reputation for being one of the world's most welcoming nations will make an exceptional event for the entire country," Mr Brown added.