Ireland learn of their potential 2021 World Cup opponents

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses with the Women's Rugby World Cup during the 2021 draw event in Auckland

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses with the Women's Rugby World Cup during the 2021 draw event in Auckland

The Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw saw New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, together with Rugby World Cup winners Melodie Robinson, Dr Farah Palmer and Dan Carter, draw the balls for the ninth edition of the showcase event.

"At the heart of the tournament will be a programme of activities and forums that will further the role of women in rugby from leadership seminars to coaching internships with the participating teams and a national programme of activities".

"It is interesting how the pools have come out", New Zealand captain Eloise Blackwell said.

Two-time champions England will face France in Pool C, while Pool B features a North American derby between Canada and the United States. "We had all that lined up for the autumn internationals - we should have been in Australia and New Zealand now".

"I don't think it's going to be logistically possible for us now", Middleton said.

England, who were runners-up at RWC 2017 in Belfast, have been drawn in Pool C with France, South Africa and Fiji.

New Zealand will meet Australia, Wales and the final qualification tournament victor in Pool A.

Last month, the England Netball team quarantined for two weeks in New Zealand - which has recorded just 25 deaths from Covid and where the virus case numbers remain extremely low - before playing the Silver Ferns in a three-Test series.

Ardern attended the draw, along with New Zealand players and a crowd of about 400, while overseas dignitaries such as World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont took part remotely due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

"This is huge for us".

"If we want to win the World Cup we're going to have to play the best teams along the way so if they're in our pool that is what we focus on".

The seedings were based on rankings from January 1, 2020 as restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus meant none of the southern hemisphere teams were able to play this year.

The draw took place in Auckland today, with the tournament kicking off on September 18 next year.

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