By Michael Pavitt

An All-Ireland bid for the Women's Rugby World Cup has been launched ©AFP/Getty ImagesIreland has submitted a bid to host the Women's Rugby World Cup in August 2017, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has announced.

Ireland have never staged the women's competition and are the first country to launch a bid for the tournament, which was brought forward from 2018 to 2017 a year to maximise synergy with the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens cycles.

Unlike in many sports, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland compete together as one nation, and their bid has cited respective capitals Belfast and Dublin as possible locations, with the IRFU intending to host the 2017 pool stages at University College Dublin.

Queen's University Sport and Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby, one of Ireland's four professional rugby teams, has been put forward for closing stages of the World Cup and would stage play-offs, semi-finals and the final.

"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," said IRFU chief executive Phillip Browne.

"We hope that the growing interest in Women's rugby in Ireland, world leading facilities at University College Dublin, Queen's University Sport, Kingspan Stadium and our internationally recognised reputation for being one of the world's most welcoming nations will make an Irish bid the standout submission for the 2017 tournament."

Ireland are the first team to make an official bid for the eighth edition of the tournament and also hope to host the 2023 men's competition, after launching their bid in December.

Competition from Italy for the right to host has already been confirmed, with South Africa among other possible bidders. 

England are the current holders of the competition having won the 2014 edition in France ©AFP/Getty ImagesEngland are the current holders of the competition having won the 2014 edition in France ©AFP/Getty Images

Ireland's women reached the semi-finals for the first time at the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in France, beating four-time winners New Zealand en route.

"I am delighted to be part of this ambitious bid to bring one of the world's most premier women's sporting event to Ireland," said Fiona Coghlan, a member of the side and IRFU Women's Rugby Ambassador.

"Having captained Ireland at the recent Women's Rugby World Cup in France I hope that I can help Irish Rugby to develop a Rugby World Cup that tops everything that went before and I know that the Irish people, Irish business and the Irish media will deliver a tournament to remember."

England will head into the 2017 tournament as the reigning champions, after beating Canada 21-9 in the 2014 final, held at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris.

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