The verdict comes after a lengthy process tarnished with indecision and uncertainty. Wales were initially informed by FIRA-AER that their fourth placing at the 2004 European Cup had secured qualification, a decision that was reversed several months later by the IRB. It was determined that Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Wales would compete for three places, based on the outcome of the 2005 Six Nations competition. After a tough competition, which saw Wales face three challenging away fixtures, they finished 6th and therefore put themselves out of contention for an automatic spot.
The invitation place was the last opportunity for qualification, with Wales pitched up against Samoa, Italy, Japan and Brazil. Criteria was set based on international matches played and results since 2002 Women's Rugby World Cup, domestic competitions, playing numbers, development schemes and other information relating to the proposed Union and region. The decision therefore comes as a bitter blow to the WRU which has worked solidly to develop both the domestic and international games since 1994, with significant development since 2002. Welsh representative sides have played a total of 24 senior, 11 development, 13 U19 and 4 student international fixtures since the 2002 Women's World Cup.
The WWRU are currently finalising international and domestic strategic plans leading to 2010, with the 2006 World Cup competition forming a vital part of this. Therefore, the non-inclusion will have a very detrimental impact on all areas of the development of the women's and girls' game in Wales.
This will be the first major international tournament that the nation will be left out of, having finished no lower than 10th at any of the four previous World Cups, hosting the inaugural event in 1991, and at least 5th at every European Championship.
Jilly Holroyd, Manager of Women's and Girls' Rugby said "This is a massive blow for everyone involved in women's and girls' rugby in Wales. It is something that has come as a big shock due to the significant amount of development work being undertaken by Wales as a nation, with the WWRU having invested in excess of £1 million into the sport over the last 3 years. We will certainly be appealing the decision of the IRB and are prepared to fight for what we feel is a justified place at the World Cup. I cannot see that the IRB can justify our non-inclusion based on the criteria they set out. We are fully supported by the WRU and the Women's Six Nations Committee and the matter is now in the hands of the WRU Chairman and Group Chief Executive".
Wales' bid for inclusion is fully supported by all five of their Six Nations counterparts, as reflected by Women's Six Nations Committee Chair, Carol Isherwood:
"We are exceptionally disappointed by the IRB's decision not to award Wales a place. The Six Nations competition is one of the strongest international competitions in the world and Wales has always competed well in it, proving their status as one of the leading nations in women's rugby. Furthermore, they have regularly competed at Development, U19 and Students level, reflecting their ever-increasing strength and commitment to developing the sport. The whole selection procedure has to be brought into question, with the goal-posts continually being moved for those countries that did not receive an automatic qualification place."