The first of these was an event held in August in New Zealand. Though not considered a world cup, the tournament was referred to as the World Rugby Festival for Women. The competition included teams representing the United Statesthe NetherlandsRussiaand the hosts, New Zealand — who emerged as winners after defeating the United States in the final.
The decision to award New Zealand the tournament ends an embarrassment for the Kiwi and international game. There have been eight World Cups and the Black Ferns have dominated them, winning five titles.
Yet this is the first time New Zealand have actually bid to host the tournament and the first time that World Rugby have awarded the event to a country outside the northern hemisphere.
New Zealand Rugby has belatedly woken up to competing in the modern world where the demands for equality increase each day. They have made some big moves in this area internally and now they finally get the chance to showpiece the pinnacle of the women's game.
This comes against New Zealand hosting the men's tournaments in and — along with losing the rights to co-host the men's event with Australia. The successful women's hosting decision has come with plenty of chest-thumping by New Zealand and global officials and with support from the Kiwi government.
Now we wait to see the response of the New Zealand public. It's an international tournament but is it a national event in New Zealand terms? The strange decision to restrict games to Whangarei and the wider Auckland area will test that.
When New Zealand won the hosting rights to the men's World Cup, the successful bid came with a cunning ploy built around the country's national fervour for rugby. This is, after all, our supposed national game.
New Zealand's population is now closer to five million yet just the far north and an Auckland area often ambivalent to sporting occasions get the pleasure of watching live matches. The incredible Black Ferns deserve this opportunity and they need a nation behind them.