Women's Rugby World Cup: Nations ready for kick-off in France

Women's Rugby World Cup 2014
Twelve nations will compete at the Women's Rugby World Cup 2014
IRB Women's Rugby World Cup
Hosts: France Dates: 1-17 August
Coverage: Reports & updates on BBC Sport website, BBC Sport app and BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentary on later stages; live coverage on Sky

The Women's Rugby World Cup gets under way on Friday when holders New Zealand take on Kazakhstan in France.

The Black Ferns have won the last four tournaments and are favourites to lift the trophy again at the final in Paris.

Wales and Ireland will compete in the 12-nation event, with England, runners up at the last tournament in 2010, hoping to go one better.

England flanker Maggie Alphonsi said: "I want people to recognise us as the best team in the world."

The Red Roses have lost the last three World Cup finals to New Zealand and the hurt of 2010 has driven Alphonsi and the other 11 survivors from the defeat in London on.

The Six Nations Grand Slam winner said: "Losing in that World Cup was horrendous."

England play Pool A rivals Samoa on Friday in Marcoussis and Spain on 5 August, before a duel with Canada on 9 August.

Previous World Cups
1991WalesUSA beat England 19-6
1994ScotlandEngland beat USA 38-23
1998NetherlandsNZ beat USA 44-12
2002SpainNZ beat England 19-9
2006CanadaNZ beat England 25-17
2010EnglandNZ beat England 13-10

Ireland head into the finals having won the Six Nations in 2013 and hoping to better their seventh-placed finish 2010.

Winger Grace Davitt said: "I'm so excited for this one, it's definitely been the best preparation for any of the three World Cup's I've been involved in so I'm just really looking forward to getting over there and getting stuck in."

The Irish open their campaign against Pool B opponents USA, before facing world champions New Zealand and Kazakhstan.

Wales finished ninth in the last two World Cup tournaments and had a disappointing Six Nations in July with just one victory.

But captain Rachel Taylor sees signs the Welsh team are closing the gap to the best teams in the world.

Stade Jean Bouin
The 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup final will be played at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris

"We have put some massive performances in against some of the best teams in the world," Taylor told rbs6nations.com.

"If I can take a little bit of every game and make one game out of it, we'd have a really good strong team."

Wales play hosts and 2014 Six Nation Grand Slam winners France in their opening game of Pool C, followed by Australia and South Africa.

All pool fixturesexternal-link will be played across three match days - 1, 5 and 9 August - on a series of pitches at France's National Centre of Rugby in Marcoussis.

The semi-finals and final will be staged at the 20,000-capacity Stade Jean Bouin in central Paris, the home of Stade Francais rugby club, on 13 and 17 August.