World Rugby's recommendation to postpone the women's World Cup until next year has been ratified by the global governing body's executive committee.

The decision to delay the tournament to be hosted by New Zealand - first announced last week - was taken because of the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The committee have also agreed to develop and fund a World Cup high performance preparation and competition programme for qualified nations and those still competing in the qualification process.

"Our hearts go out to all the players, team personnel and fans who were preparing and looking forward to the World Cup this year," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said. 

Ireland were due to face Spain in Madrid on 13 March in what was effectively a semi-final for qualification for the World Cup but that match was called off when news of the postponement came through. 

Should Adam Griggs' side beat the Spanish, they will play the winners of a match between Scotland and Italy, which had been provisionally scheduled for early May. A date for the final will be confirmed following this game. 

The winners of the European final qualify automatically for the New Zealand tournament

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