New Zealand has entered a race against Australia to host the 2021 women’s Rugby World Cup.
NZ Rugby confirmed on Saturday it submitted a bid to stage the ninth edition of the tournament, three days after Rugby Australia unveiled details of its proposal.
Both countries want to become the four-yearly event’s first southern hemisphere host.
A tournament in New Zealand would be held at up to four venues, including Eden Park, in host cities Auckland and Whangarei
The bid has secured financial backing from the government and local councils.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country has a proven record of hosting major events, including the 2011 men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2015 cricket World Cup, which it shared with Australia.
She also described New Zealand as the “home of women’s rugby”, with the Black Ferns having clinched their fifth world championship title last year.
Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai said it was about time New Zealand hosted the event.
She said her district was rugby mad.
“We’ve got a community who’s passionate about sport and we’ve got volunteers who will be lining up ready to take part in helping out with the women’s rugby so yeah we are just very very excited and hopeful,” she said.
Sheryl Mai said the British and Irish Lions started their tour in Whangarei, and the area also competently hosted matches for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“Women’s rugby is on a high and look at how successful we are and I think New Zealand is a natural fit to win the bid,” she added.
NZ Rugby is exploring the option of running a Pacific Island women’s rugby tournament alongside the World Cup.
Australia’s bid is for a tournament staged at venues in Newcastle and the Hunter Region in NSW.
Other nations are expected to bid, with a hosting decision made by World Rugby on November 14.