By Tom Degun in London
November 23 - Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe today officially launched the Women’s 2010 Rugby World Cup at the home of English Rugby, Twickenham.
The Women’s 2010 Rugby World Cup takes place from August 20 until September 5 and will be the sixth women’s World Cup with holders New Zealand, who beat England 25-17 in the 2006 World Cup final in Edmonton, looking to retain their crown .
Sutcliffe was joined at the launch by Martyn Thomas, the chairman of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Management Board, Rosie Williams, the managing director of the RFUW, and Mike Miller, the chief executive of the International Rugby Board (IRB), amongst a host of coaches and players – including England captain Catherine Spencer - who will be fighting it out next year.
Sutcliffe said: "I am honoured to be here as the Sports Minister.
"It is a very exciting time for women's rugby and for women's sport across England.
"This is all part of our decade of sport that began with the 20/20 Cricket World Cup this year and will include not only this event, which is the pinnacle of women's rugby, but also the men’s World Cup in 2015 and obviously the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games right at it's heart."
It was also revealed that Ticketmaster, the official ticket supplier for the London 2012 Olympics, will be responsible for officiating tickets for the tournament in an innovative new strategy that means fans who buy tickets for the Women's 2010 World Cup will have an option to go on a database that will give priority information on ticketing for the men's Rugby World Cup in 2015.
The Twickenham Stoop – the home of Guinness Premiership Club Harlequins – is set to host the final, the semi-finals and the bronze medal final at next year's World Cup while all the other matches will be played at the impressive new multi-million pound Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, which is set to be a training ground for the Harlequins as well as a training camp for Olympic and Paralympic athletes ahead of the London 2012 Games.
Sky Sports were announced as the host broadcasters for the tournament and will be showing at least seven full matches as the event progresses.
Thomas (pictured) told insidethegames: "To have both the women's World Cup and the men's World Cup in England in the same decade is absolutely brilliant.
"We have bid for World Cup’s in the past and failed so it is a real boost for the RFU and all English Rugby to have the two biggest tournament in men's and women's rugby."
Williams said: "It's fabulous for English rugby but I think it is also think it's a fabulous thing for world rugby.
"English rugby is very forward thinking in terms of marketing strategies and things like that so I think the global game will benefit from the IRB’s decision to stage the World Cup here."
Miller said: "England is one of the biggest rugby unions in the world.
"Having one World Cup here will give a huge boost to the game so having two will give an even bigger boost, particularly to women’s rugby which is undergoing huge growth right now.
"The IRB was very impressed with the England bid and are confident that England will host two fantastic tournaments in 2012 and 2015."
England, the top seeds in their group, will open the tournament against Ireland on Friday August 20, 2010, and having beaten the defending World Champions New Zealand 10-3 for the first time in eight years over the weekend, will be feeling confident.
Spencer express her delight at the World Cup coming to England.
She said: "Hopefully we can all keep focused and keep fit but we are all going to relish the experience of competing in front of a home crowd and if we play are best, we can beat anyone in the world."
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September 2008: England awarded women's Rugby World Cup
Photography by: Patrick Khachfe