Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off in England and Wales this week and I can’t wait. I’ll be cheering on those burly men as they bash into each other and chuck around a ball that won’t roll in a straight line…
Image by Natural-Heart on flickr
Can you tell I’m not a rugby fanatic? It doesn’t matter. I may not follow the sport closely, but I do love the atmosphere of an international sporting event – the chants, the jeers, the sheer tension of it all.
One of the most intense moments of my life was the England-Germany semi-final penalty shoot-out in Euro ’96. I was 15 and couldn’t handle the tension; I had to leave the room. I’d never experienced anything like it: the noise of 76,000 football fans with everything to lose, the tears (thank you, Gazza, for showing that men have wobbly lip moments too), and the concentration etched on the faces of men who have honed their skills since early childhood.
Other than horse racing in Hong Kong, I’ve only ever attended one major international sports event – Team GB vs Brazil in the London 2012 Olympics Women’s Football. Sixteen years after England broke my heart, I was finally attending a proper football match. And it was a proper football match – forget what the fogyish detractors of women’s football say. The noise, the lights and the talent on display; the memory of it still brings me out in goosebumps.
Image by Ivan Bandura on flickr
Women’s sport is having a moment. Actually, it’s experiencing a well-deserved growth in popularity. The Women’s Football World Cup in Canada earlier this year prompted a huge growth in audience numbers. And, driven by the success of the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup and the inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the 2016 Summer Olympic, women’s rugby is one of the world’s fastest growing sports.
So prompted by the Rugby World Cup 2015, I’m taking this opportunity to encourage you to travel to cheer on upcoming women’s world cups. If you enjoy watching Rugby World Cup 2015, you’ll love these too. There’s never been a better time to cheer on your female sports idols.
2016 US Women’s Open, California
The 2016 US Women’s Open will take place in CordeValle, California, a course that is consistently ranked in the Top 100 in the United States and was recently rated the Toughest Course in the Bay Area. While the Open should be your main reason for going, there are plenty of other excuses to visit the CordeValle Resort: the pro tennis players who will help you brush up on your tennis skills, the spa, and the winery, which is where you’d find me!
Find out more: 2016uswomensopen.com
2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, Ireland and Northern Ireland
The 2017 tournament is set to be the best one yet. The world’s top female rugby players will come together for the semi-finals and positional play-offs in Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium. Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, loves rugby and is known for its warm welcome. Get ready for a lively atmosphere. You’ll be talking about this for years!
Find out more: www.worldrugby.org
2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, Canada
Action-packed, fast-paced, rough and tumble and with a rambunctious crowd – ice hockey is always a great sport for spectators. The IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship is the premier international tournament in women's ice hockey and the next one takes place in Canada, the tournament’s most successful nation, meaning the atmosphere of this event will be well worth travelling for. And if the last 25 years are a reliable indicator, Canada will make it to the final too.
Find out more: www.worldwomen2016.com
Image by bradfordst219 on flickr
2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, England
The scene is being set for a thrilling 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in England, with the launch of a new women’s cricket super league in summer 2016, and confirmation of London’s iconic Lord’s cricket ground as the venue for the World Cup final (www.lords.org). Lord’s is the home of cricket and playing its perfectly manicured wicket is the pinnacle of international cricketing ambition, male and female. Before then, you can take a guided tour of Lord’s and follow the footsteps of international cricketers through the Long Room, a cricketing art gallery and gateway to the hallowed turf.
Find out more: www.icc-europe.org
Have you travelled to watch a major sporting event? Tell us about your experience. And which one would you like to see next?