World Rugby, and hosts New Zealand Rugby (NZR), have confirmed that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to participate in the Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw.
The New Zealand Prime Minister will join Rugby World Cup winners Melodie Robinson, Dr Farah Palmer and Dan Carter as special guests drawing the balls for the ninth edition of the showcase event.
Robinson will be a representative of the Rugby World Cup Board, having recently been appointed to the board.
The event, hosted at SkyCity Theatre in Auckland on Friday, November 20, will be broadcast live on SPARK and live streamed on World Rugby digital channels from 07:15 NZT. (18:15 GMT Thursday, November 19)
Global audiences can tune into World Rugby’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw Show, hosted by leading rugby presenters Elma Smit and Ugo Monye.
The show, which will be live streamed across World Rugby digital channels, will give fans exclusive behind-the-scenes access from the draw and feature player interviews from participating nations, before and after the main event.
Rugby World Cup 2021 is set to break new ground as the ninth edition of the tournament is hosted in the southern hemisphere for the first time, taking place from 18 September-16 October, 2021 across three match venues.
Also for the first time in the tournament’s history, the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will be used to determine the draw seedings and bands for the seven direct qualifiers in bands one to three, with the five teams to emerge from the qualification process to be placed into band three and four.
The bands are:
Band 1– New Zealand, England, Canada
Band 2– France, Australia, USA
Band 3– Wales, Europe 1, South Africa
Band 4– Asia 1, Fiji, Final Qualifier winner
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We are honoured and delighted to announce that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will attend the upcoming RWC 2021 Draw event alongside Rugby World Cup winners Melodie Robinson, Farah Palmer and Dan Carter, who have an impressive seven titles between them.
“With one week to go, anticipation is building. The draw is the moment that Rugby World Cup truly comes alive for players, unions and of course the fans.
“We are looking forward to what promises to be a spectacular New Zealand 2021 that will provide the perfect platform for the world’s best players to showcase their talent, while raising the bar for women in rugby on and off the field of play.”
Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper echoed Beaumont’s sentiment.
“2021 is set to be a golden year for women’s rugby and next week’s draw will really bring it to life for players and fans alike.
“New Zealanders are set to celebrate this momentous occasion, to come out and support the world’s best players here on our shores, to play for the biggest prize in rugby,” said Hooper.
“As a nation we are set to share our aroha for the great game of rugby with the world and to showcase this to rugby’s global fans.
“We have seen a surge of interest in the women’s game in New Zealand in recent years and we will use this opportunity to super-charge the women’s game globally through RWC 2021.”
Cumbria will be taking extra interest with current England international Abbie Ward having attended Keswick and Sedbergh school.
The Dumfries born Cumbrian was part of the England squad at the 2017 World Cup when they made it to the final but lost out 41-32 to this editions host, New Zealand.