Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 is underway and what a start to the tournament in Paris.
In front of sell out crowds, the 12 teams vying for the much sought after trophy battled their way through hot weather with wins for defending champions New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Australia, England and hosts France.
It has also been confirmed that more than one million people in France tuned in to watch their team defeat Wales in the last match on day one of the tournament.
Former Welsh international Non Evans earned 87 caps for her country and is now on board as a commentator for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014. She was eagerly watching the action unfold from the commentator’s box.
“The standard of rugby was superb,” said Evans.
“We saw some close matches and I think that every country’s standard of play has improved. To see so many of the games televised and huge crowds for all the matches on both pitches … the competition could not have gotten off to a better start.”
“Obviously, I enjoyed watching an excellent performance from Wales, although the result didn’t go their way against Grand Slam champions France on home soil.”
Reflecting on the USA v Ireland match that she was in the commentators' box for, Evans said: “The game was unrelenting. I’d like to see the statistics for the time where the ball was in play because both teams gave it their all.”
“It was so hot on the pitch that there were water breaks after 20 minutes but it shows the fitness levels of these women. They play like professionals although the sport is amateur!”
“One player that stood out for me was Magali Harvey of Canada. She had such pace that Spain couldn’t deal with it although Spain were supposed to be the quicker of the two sides with a lot of their girls playing in the Sevens programme.”
Harvey was seen storming down the field three times, to secure a hat-trick for her team within the first half and 26 points by full-time.
“So many of these girls have Sevens experience that we’re seeing real gas,” said Evans.
“You get them into space and some of these wingers are really standing out.”
So the question that everyone’s asking, who’s going to win?
“It’s still a relatively open competition. Of course New Zealand are the favourites and England who had a strong performance against a physical Samoa.
“But you can’t rule out Ireland and USA looked good, Australia scored 26 points against South Africa so I think that it’s going to be a very close tournament."