PARIS, France – Excitement surrounded the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup Wednesday as pools were drawn for the elite competition at the Hotel de Ville. Twelve teams now know what the competition will be like for them come Aug. of next year.
For USA, the selection process saw the Women’s Eagles placed into Pool B alongside Kazakhstan, Ireland, and four-time reigning champion New Zealand.
As head coach Pete Steinberg put it, Pool B is a “pool of death and opportunity.”
“We are excited about being in a tough pool, playing some of the best sides,” commented Steinberg. “Now we know what is in front of us and the challenge is significant.”
In front of the Eagles are the defending champion Black Ferns and current RBS 6 Nations champion Ireland.
“This means that we need to start strong in our pool and hit the World Cup ready to play our best early,” mentioned the head coach. “The World Cup is about playing the best teams in the world and it just so happens that in our pool we have a world power and a rising power.”
Kazakhstan also throws a challenge in the Eagles’ direction through its Pool B inclusion.
“We (the USA) have only played Kazakhstan once in our entire history, so the challenge arises in that we don’t know what to really expect out of them,” said Steinberg. “We know they are a good team from the qualification to the World Cup, but how they will stack up against us is unknown at this point.”
Kazakhstan and Ireland are again paired with the Eagles, with all three being in the same pool for the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup. The Eagles earned an opening round victory, 51-0, before falling to Ireland, 22-12, in pool play of that year’s competition.
In route to a fifth-place finish, however, the Women’s Eagles were able to rebound against Ireland, winning 40-3. The last meeting between the teams saw the Eagles’ record improve to 4-1 all-time against the Irish.
As for the Black Ferns, the Women’s Eagles remain winless against the reigning title holder. Last meeting in the 1998 Women’s Rugby World Cup finals, New Zealand claimed its first ever World Cup trophy decisively, 44-12, while in Amsterdam.
The two squads last met in 2004 at the Women’s Churchill Cup, ending in New Zealand shutting out the Women’s Eagles 35-0.
For the 2014 World Cup, the Eagles will be looking to return to the Final for the first time since 1998. Since competing during its fall tour last November, the Eagles have been using “Final in ’14” as their motto for inspiration in reaching that goal.
The Eagles last won the coveted World Cup trophy in 1991, the inaugural year of the tournament.
Competition for the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup begins Aug. 1 in Paris. Subsequent games will take place through Aug. 17, with each team competing in five matches. Game schedules have yet to be determined.
For the draw, teams were ranked from one through 12 before being placed into bands. Ranking fifth for the selection process, the Eagles fell into the second band out of the possible four.
Also in band two were Canada and France, whereas the top band teams included New Zealand, England, and Australia.
The Black Ferns have been dubbed the tournament favorites.
2014 Women's Rugby World Cup | Pools