Women's Rugby World Cup 2014: England to face Canada in pool

New Zealand v England

England will face Nations Cup champions Canada, Spain and Samoa in the pool stages of the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in France next summer.

England are aiming to go one better after finishing runners-up to New Zealand in the last three global tournaments, in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Wales Women will play hosts France, South Africa and Australia, while Ireland will tackle world champions New Zealand, Kazakhstan and USA.

The tournament runs from 1-17 August.

The format mirrors 2010 with 12 teams split into three pools of four. The three group winners and best second-placed team will contest the semi-finals, with further play-off matches to contest the rankings from fifth to 12th.

Pool matches will be staged at the French Rugby Federation's National Rugby Centre at Marcoussis outside Paris, with the semi-finals and final at the newly-refurbished home of Stade Francais, the Stade Jean Bouin.

In 2010, England lost to New Zealand in the final for the third tournament in a row.

An inexperienced England side missing many of their best players also lost 27-13 to pool opponents Canada in the Nations Cup final in August this year.

The two countries meet again next month at the Twickenham Stoop on 13 November, the second of England's autumn Tests after they play France at Twickenham on 9 November.

"This is certainly going to be an interesting pool for us," said England head coach Gary Street. "We know that Canada will offer a hugely physical challenge and they have enjoyed a lot of success recently.

"Samoa are a relatively unknown side to us but we do know they have a successful Sevens programme and they have some talented strong players.

"Spain, meanwhile, are always a dogged side and we have enjoyed some very close games against them in the European Cup and the Six Nations when they were in it. Spain are certainly not a side to take lightly."

Wales also faced South Africa and Australia in the pool stages of the 2010 tournament, losing to both - as well as champions New Zealand - when they finished bottom of their pool, and ninth overall.

Wales' best finish at a World Cup was fourth in 1994.

Head coach Rhys Edwards said: "I'm happy to have avoided England and New Zealand because they are obviously the top two teams in the world at the moment.

"France at home is going to be a huge challenge but we will be looking to next year's Six Nations as a springboard for the World Cup. We are in a healthy position at the moment as we have genuine competition for places right across the team."

Ireland, the reigning Women's Six Nations champions, have been drawn in arguably the toughest pool which includes the Black Ferns - aiming for a fifth title in a row - and three-time finalists USA, who won the inaugural tournament in 1991.

"In terms of New Zealand, we are delighted to have drawn them as we have not faced them before and we will relish the chance to play them," said Ireland Women's head coach Philip Doyle.

"We are familiar with Kazakhstan and the USA from the last time and both teams present a really physical challenge.

"We beat USA in the pool stages but they came back hard at us in the play-offs and I expect nothing less this time around."

Ireland finished seventh at the last World Cup in 2010, equalling their previous best finish in 1994.

Scotland's women failed to qualify after finishing bottom of this year's Six Nations and losing a World Cup qualification play-off to Spain.

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