The pool stages are over, the semi-finalists are confirmed and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 has arrived in Belfast after Dublin delivered on all fronts.
Records fell, new standards were set and friendships were made as fans, current and new, were treated to some breath-taking rugby.
Three sell-out match days delivered drama and compelling action as Japan and Hong Kong captured hearts, Ireland, despite outstaning support, fell agonisingly short, while New Zealand, England and France turned on the style, remaining unbeaten throughout the pool stages. The four semi-final captains met at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast (above) on Saturday, with excitement building ahead of the matches at the Kingspan Stadium on Tuesday.
All 12 teams were superbly supported at a UCD campus that proved perfect for teams and fans with high performance facilities and a popular fan-zone.
Yet it is not just in Ireland where the tournament has captured the imagination. Online and in conversation, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 has captured hearts and minds with more than 17 million views of video content on World Rugby’s digital platforms.
Broadcast figures have also been strong with France Television setting a new Women’s Rugby World Cup viewing record as an average of 2.34 million fans (peak 3.1 million) tuned-in to watch the winner-takes-all match between Ireland and France, representing a 12 per cent market share. Strong broadcast audiences in Ireland, the UK, USA and Canada have also been a feature, with the semi-finals and final expected to be even bigger.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This has been a very special Women’s Rugby World Cup on and off the field and Dublin has certainly played its part as an exceptional host. From the facilities to the excellent fans and superb volunteers, there has been a special family atmosphere.
“As we look to Belfast and the business end of the tournament, I would like to thank everyone involved in delivering a wonderful event in Dublin, the IRFU and Government, but especially the fans and volunteers, who have been outstanding.”