Wales women have been pooled with the defending World Champions for the forthcoming Women's Rugby World Cup.
Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) today announced the pools for the tournament which will take place next summer in England.
The premier 15-aside tournament in the Women's Game, which will be played from August 20 to September 5, will feature three pools of four teams with defending champions New Zealand, hosts and 2006 runners-up England and 2006 bronze medalists France all ranked top seeds in their pool.
The unprecedented qualification process, which saw 16 teams compete for the six places available outside the automatically qualified teams, was completed when Kazakhstan defeated Japan 43-5 to claim a place in Pool B, while Sweden join Pool C in their first appearance on the Women's Rugby World Cup stage since 1998.
Pool A: New Zealand, Wales, Australia, South Africa
Pool B: England, USA, Ireland, Kazakhstan
Pool C: France, Canada, Scotland, Sweden
New Zealand, England, France, Canada, USA and South Africa all qualified directly, with Wales and Ireland qualifying through the Six Nations, Sweden and Scotland from the European qualifiers in May, Australia as the Oceania qualifier and Kazakhstan from Asia.
Wales have only met the All Blacks on one previous occasion, but tasted defeat in April of 1991, with a 24-6 loss at Llanharan
Robin McBryde and son Billy are set to represent Wales on either side of the globe over the coming weeks with Robin travelling to New Zealand as Wales assistant coach and Billy competing at the World Rugby U20 Championship (Manchester, June 7-25). WRU TV caught up with the pair and captured a unique perspective into the factors that produce such a high-achieving rugby family.
The last five years have been an emotional rollercoaster on and off the pitch for RGC1404. Promotion to the Principality Premiership was the culmination of five years of hard work and investment in North Wales. WRU TV caught up with prop Joe Simpson, who was one of the first intake of WRU North Wales Academy players in 2010.
Ebbw Vale captain Damien Hudd picked up the biggest accolade of the night at the 11th Principality Premiership Awards Evening held at Principality Stadium, after leading his side to the title for the first time.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde is predicting a tough battle against England on Sunday despite the fact they may not be considered to be at full strength. Players will be out to impress Eddie Jones which makes England a dangerous proposition, he says.
Wales U20 captain Tom Phillips and performance psychologist Dr Rich Neil explain why spending three days at Monmouth RFC has further strengthened the togetherness of the squad ahead of the #WorldRugbyU20s