20 Nov 2020

Players and officials confident of successful Rugby World Cup

5:40 pm on 20 November 2020

The Black Ferns path to a sixth Rugby World Cup crown has become clearer.

The Black Ferns perform their haka.

The Black Ferns perform their haka. Photo: Photosport

The reigning world champions were set to face Australia, Wales and still yet to be determined qualifier after the official draw ceremony for next year's tournament in New Zealand in Auckland on Friday.

Former All Black Eroni Clarke, ex-Black Fern Vania Wolfgramm and social media star Jordan Teru got the more than 100 school girls in attendance hyped for the official proceedings.

And after the formalities were complete, Black Ferns flanker Charmaine McMenamin was equally excited for a tournament which was now just 10 months away.

"To have this event, it really brings life to it.

"Oh man, I was nervous when those pools were getting drawn but it's going be great. To think that it's not that far away anymore, that's really awesome."

New Zealand coach Glenn Moore also admitted to feeling the tension as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former World Cup winners Dr Farah Palmer, Melodie Robinson and Dan Carter drew the three groups for next year's tournament.

The oohs and ahhs were audible as Australia were drawn in pool A alongside the Black Ferns, and Moore said it was great to get a guaranteed clash against their trans-Tasman foes.

"There's a real rivalry there, there always is no matter what the sport is.

"If that [match] happens early, that's great. We're pleased that they're in the pool with us and it's good motivation as well."

With the draw done, the focus switched to making the tournament a reality.

Tournament director Michelle Wood admitted the Covid-19 pandemic's continued prevalence around the world was their biggest challenge.

But Wood said the successful hosting of the Wallabies and now the West Indies cricket side gave her confidence the event would happen.

"It really shows that we can get these 11 teams into the country.

"You also heard today the Prime Minister's committment to the tournament and her absolute passion to host the tournament in 2021.

"I feel like we've got all the support in the right places, the New Zealand government, World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby, 100 per cent committed to making sure it goes ahead next year."

Wood said - given the different levels of the virus in different nations - preparing to host teams from 11 overseas countries added a lot of complexity.

Glenn Moore

Glenn Moore Photo: Photosport

But she added they were working closely with various Government agencies and experts.

"They've given us all the tips about getting in touch with the local health bodies in the different countries.

"Getting teams to travel from one port of origin, what they can do pre-departure in regard to what the government needs to have certainty before they jump on the plane."

Organisers were optimistic the global situation with Covid-19 improved in the next 10 months.

But Wood said their primary plan did include managed isolation for all arriving teams, with a focus on fairness of preparation for everyone.

"As long as they can have a high performance training environment when they come into the country and what they need to prepare for playing the matches.

"[It's] making sure we can protect the bubbles and keep the virus out of the country during that 14 day period."

None of that would be an issue for the Black Ferns, but the hosts did have hurdles to overcome.

With no tests this year, and none yet scheduled between now and the tournament kickoff on September 18, coach Glenn Moore was asking New Zealand Rugby to do all they could to get the team international match-play.

"Up until now we've had a slight advantage on everyone [because] we've had our domestic competitions, being club rugby and Farah Palmer Cup.

"We've now got some of the Six Nations teams back playing and that swings the pendulum a little bit, so we definitely need test matches."

Moore was hoping for three tests around May, with the potential of two or three more leading into the World Cup.