Citing COVID, World Rugby recommends postponing 2021 women's World Cup to next year

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World Rugby has recommended postponing the 2021 women's World Cup to next year because of the pandemic.

The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup board and World Rugby executive committee on March 8 and 9, respectively.

The tournament was slated to run Sept. 18 to Oct. 16 across three match venues in New Zealand.

It's another blow for the third-ranked Canadians, who have not been together since the Can-Am Series against the U.S. in November 2019. Many have moved overseas to find playing time to prepare for the ninth edition of the World Cup.

World Rugby said discussions with New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand government and participating unions had shown that "given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage."

Rugby Canada said while disappointed at the decision, it supports "the position of World Rugby to put participant safety at the forefront of the decision-making process."

"If the decision is ultimately made to postpone the tournament, Rugby Canada will fully support our national women’s 15s team in developing new preparation timelines to ensure we are ready to compete against the world’s best in 2022,” Rugby Canada chair Tim Powers said in a statement.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press