Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017: Round 1 Predictions

Women's RWC

The opening round of tournament sees the top teams in women’s rugby look to gain the initiative in their quest to reach the knockout stages.

Here are the predictions for round one of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on Wednesday…

POOL A

New Zealand v Wales
Billings Park, UCD
KO 14:45

Four-time champions New Zealand will be looking to lay down an early marker for this tournament having finished a disappointing fifth at the previous World Cup.

The Black Ferns will target a strong start against Wales as a signal of their intent to regain the title they lost in 2014.

For the Welsh, their challenge will be to keep the scoring respectable as they look to their second match with Canada for a possible upset.

Prediction: New Zealand by 32

Canada v Hong Kong
Billings Park, UCD
KO 17:15

Canada know only a four-try bonus victory will do when they take on tournament newcomers Hong Kong in their opening group match.

The 2014 runners-up are expected to brush aside their competition debutants without much fuss as bigger clashes with Wales and New Zealand await them.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, are bracing themselves for a massive step up in class and are likely to find their first World Cup experience overwhelming.

Prediction: Canada by 46

POOL B?

England v Spain
Billings Park, UCD
KO 14:00

Champions England will be aiming to hit the ground running when they begin the defence of their crown against Spain in the tournament’s opening game.

The Red Roses are looking to add to their RBS Six Nations’ Grand Slam and clean sweep on their recent Southern Hemisphere tour by retaining their World Cup title.

Las Leonas will just be hoping to give a good account of themselves and frustrate the holders.

Prediction: England by 35

United States v Italy
Billings Park, UCD
KO 16:30

United States will need to be ready when they face a tricky opening bout against an improving Italy.

The Americans – winners in 1991 and runners-up in 1994 – are predicted to win this fixture, but are likely to be met with some stern resistence from the Azzurre.

Italy have developed considerably based on their recent Six Nations’ displays and will be looking to bring that form into the tournament.

Prediction: United States by 10

POOL C

Ireland v Australia
UCD Bowl
KO 19:00

Hosts Ireland can ill-afford a slow start when they take on Australia in a must-win group opener in front of their home crowd at the UCD Bowl.

The Irish have lost both their two previous World Cup meetings with the Aussies and know that record has to change to third time lucky if they are to advance.

Oz too know their chances of progression hinges on this game with France to come in round two.

Prediction: Ireland by 5

France v Japan

Billings Park, UCD
KO 19:45

France will be fancied to win their opening game with Japan comfortably and achieve the four-try bonus in the process.

Les Bleus are gearing up for big clashes with Australia in round two and Ireland in round three to decide who comes out on top in Pool C.

Japan will look to catch the eye by playing some enterprising rugby, but are not expected to pose the French many problems.

Prediction: France by 30

By Aron Hegarty

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