Ireland will begin their Women's Six Nations campaign in April, with tournament organisers confirming a new, shortened tournament format.
As part of the postponed competition, the Six Nations will be split into two pools of three, with Ireland up against Wales and France, while England, Italy and Scotland make up the other pool.
Teams will have one home and one away game in their pool, with Ireland travelling to Wales first up, before welcoming France to Energia Park in Donnybrook on the weekend of April 17th/18th.
The final tournament standings will then be decided on a final series of playoff games, similar to that of the Autumn Nations Cup, where the first place team from Pool A will play the Pool B winners, second from Pool A will take on their Pool B counterparts, and so forth.
IRFU Director of Sevens & Women's Rugby, Anthony Eddy said he's pleased with today's announcement, adding that it will provide the perfect preparation for their final World Cup qualifiers.
"We welcome today’s announcement of the 2021 Women’s Six Nations rescheduling and are looking forward to the new format. We have continued to prepare for this tournament since its postponement earlier this year, and for our Rugby World Cup qualifications. It’s good to get the start of a road map for the months ahead.
We will also continue to work with World Rugby to ensure our Rugby World Cup 2021 qualification games can take place in a timely and safe manner," Eddy said.
Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby commented, "We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight."
"Our priority has always been to deliver two outstanding tournaments but equally ensuring both competitions can be played safely, taking every consideration for player welfare. A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window due to World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams. Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed that April would be the best window in which to stage the championship."
Details were also revealed for the u20 competition, which will be played across June and July in the same format as originally planned, but through a condensed 3-week period.
"The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career. We look forward to announcing fixture details for the U20’s in due course," Morel added.
Ireland's Women's Six Nations Fixtures:
Weekend of 10th/ 11th April - Wales v Ireland
Weekend of 17th/ 18th April - Ireland v France
Weekend of 24th/ 25 April - Play-Offs.
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