This year's women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand is set to be pushed back until next year due to the uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, World Rugby said.

"The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global Covid-19 landscape," the organisers said. 

"It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the Covid-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport's greatest stage."  

The Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee will meet on 8 and 9 March respectively to ratify the decision, with the tournament set to be played "next year". 

IRFU Director of Women's Rugby, Anthony Eddy, confirmed that the decision has the support of Irish Rugby.

"We're obviously disappointed," said Eddy. "We want to play rugby. The Rugby World Cup deserves every opportunity to showcase the best that our sport has to offer and that's not possible in the Covid-19 environment.

"We have always put player welfare at the heart of everything we do and that's never been as important as it has over the past 12 months.

"We were preparing really well and that will stand to us. We'll maintain that focus into the 2021 Women's Six Nations."

Ireland are due to face Spain in a qualifier in two weeks' time

World Rugby added: "The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions. 

"World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.

"Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week."