By Gary Anderson

August 1 - Womens Rugby World Cup 2014The countdown to the start of the International Rugby Board (IRB) 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup continues as today marks exactly one year to go until competition is due to get underway in Paris.

The first match of the tournament is scheduled to take place in Marcoussis on August 1 next year with the final being held at the Stade Jean Bouin on August 17.

All pool matches for tournmanet will take place at the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) headquarters in Marcoussis and Marcoussis Rugby Club as well as some of the knockout stages, with the semi-finals, bronze final and final taking place at Stade Jean Bouin, in the French capital.

Twelve teams will take part in the seventh edition of the premier competition in women's international 15-a-side rugby and ten of those teams have already secured their place for the showpiece event.

Defending champions New Zealand, 2010 runners-up England, Australia, hosts France, United States, and Canada qualified automatically from the last World Cup, along with 2013 Grand Slam winners Ireland, as well as Wales who qualified courtesy of their placing over the 2012 and 2013 Six Nations.

New Zealands Kelly Brazier centre trys to evade the English defence during the recent international seriesNew Zealands Kelly Brazier centre trys to evade the English defence during the recent international series

The women's Rugby World Cup qualifier in Madrid in April saw Spain and Samoa book their spots for next year, which leaves the Asian and African representatives to be decided.

The final two berths will be claimed on September 7 as South Africa take on Uganda to see who will represent Africa while the winners of Kazakhstan versus Singapore and Japan versus Hong Kong will meet at the Almaty Stadium in Kazakhstan in the Asian decider.

"We believe Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 will inspire even more participation in one of the world's fastest-growing team sports," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset (pictured top).

"With the milestone of the 1,000th women's Test match just passed, we believe Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 is the next major landmark for the game, which has more than one million women and girls playing around the globe."

In 2010, New Zealand overcame hosts England 13-10 in the final to etch their name on the trophy for the fourth consecutive time.

Earlier this year, the Black Fern's completed a 3-0 series whitewash over England and look to be the team to beat once again and star back Kelly Brazier is looking forward to defending the title but is taking nothing for granted.

"Looking back it was a very successful tournament for us and we built upon each game," said the 23-year-old from Dunedin.

"But I think that is all behind us now as we are just looking ahead to 2014.

"A lot of other teams have improved a lot, which has been shown in the last couple of years, so it will be a tough tournament for sure.

"The team is starting to build well, and obviously on the back of a very successful series against England everyone is very excited and looking forward to continuing to build towards the World Cup.

"I think there are a lot of teams that will be strong, especially now with the inclusion of sevens.

"England, Canada, France and the USA I think will all prove tough to beat."

Hosts France will be looking to better their best World Cup finish of third on home soil next yearHosts France will be looking to better their best World Cup finish of third on home soil next year

Hosts France will be looking to make home advantage count as they aim to better their two third place finishes at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and captain Marie Alice Yahé said the focus of the coming year for her team will be on the tournament.

"Our families and friends will be in the stands to wish us well, and we really will not want to disappoint," she said.

"One year is both a lot and a little at the same time.

"We have big challenges in the meantime, like the Six Nations, but this Women's Rugby World Cup is already a major target for us in 2014."

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