Ireland full-back Eimear Considine says World Cup qualification is a must if they're to keep women's rugby growing in Ireland.

Adam Griggs's side will take on Spain, Italy and Scotland in their European qualification tournament starting in Italy next week, with the winner securing a place at the postponed RWC 2021 in New Zealand next year.

Ireland flopped when hosting the World Cup four years ago, finishing eighth overall despite being runners-up in the Six Nations earlier that year.

It meant they would have to go through a qualification process to make it to New Zealand.

After multiple postponements, the qualifiers finally take place in Italy next week, with Ireland's campaign getting under way on Monday against outsiders Spain.

Munster's Considine was part of the Ireland squad four years ago on home soil, and says she and her team-mates have been waiting a long time to right the wrongs of 2017.

"It's a long time coming, it definitely is," she said.

"It was bleak enough at the end of the last World Cup when you knew you had to go through the whole qualifying process.

"It's something we've been waiting for, some girls have been waiting for it for the last four years, some girls have been waiting 18 months, and I suppose it's about getting there and being on top on the world stage. We want to be back in the World Cup."

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After some difficult years of transition following the 2017 disappointment, Ireland's next generation of players have shown steady progression, despite still being some way off challenging England and France for Six Nations titles.

With their progression on the pitch, there has been an evident buzz around Irish women's rugby again, but Considine warns that a lot of ground will be lost if they fail to make it back to the World Cup.

The Clare woman said: "We're trying to push the 'Nothing Like It' campaign, we have the Interpros televised, we're trying to push the profile of women's rugby and if the international team isn't at the top level, we really need that for girls to look up to us to play, so that is the aim.

"It's to get back on the top ladder of rugby and it starts with the very first game on Monday."

Up first on Monday afternoon is Spain, who are ranked ninth in the world, securing their place in this tournament courtesy of wins against Russia and the Netherlands in the Rugby Europe Championship earlier this year.

Similar to Ireland, Considine says their squad is influenced by the shorter form of the game.

"We know how good they are on the 7s circuit," said Considine.

"They're really, really tough, and I suppose they have a lot of really good 7s players, but then they're mixing in with the 15s experience they have and they've a lot of girls playing in different clubs across Europe.

"I know personally we played Spain in warm-up games before the last World Cup, and that was the last time I had played them, and they're tough to play against. They're fast, they have the mix of 15s and 7s and that's a great mix.

"We're not taking it lightly, any one of the teams that are going to be in Italy are there for one reason, and Spain are no different."

RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier schedule

Monday, 13 September

Scotland v Italy (2pm Irish time)

Spain v Ireland (5pm)

Sunday, 19 September

Italy v Ireland (2pm)

Spain v Scotland (5pm)

Saturday, 25 September

Italy v Spain (2pm)

Ireland v Scotland (5pm)