Standards rise at Women’s Rugby World Cup but England still the team to beat | Gerard Meagher

Bartering with cut-price vodka and caviar became part of the fare at the first tournament in 1991 but now the event commands global attention

During the first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991 it was reported in these pages that the team from the Soviet Union, having travelled to Wales for the week-long tournament with only enough money for their air fares, attempted to barter with cut-price vodka and caviar to get by. Customs officers were called in but no charges brought amid numerous donations from businesses and individuals, including £100 from the mother of Bess Evans, the Wales hooker.

Things have changed unrecognisably since then and the tournament organisers for the 2017 World Cup, which kicks off in Dublin on Wednesday, have gone as far as to bill it as the showpiece rugby union event of the year. The British & Irish Lions may disagree but any global rugby union tournament for which New Zealand are not favourites commands attention.

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