NZ to host inaugural international women’s rugby tournment
New Zealand will host the inaugural women’s top six rugby series in October.
In January World Rugby announced an annual sixteen-team, three-tier global competition.
The top six teams in WXV1 will compete in New Zealand in a nine test series.
England, France and Wales, who finished top of the recent Six Nations will be joined by the top three teams from the Pacific Four Series.
The Black Ferns first test against Australia in June and then tests against Canada and the USA in early July will count towards qualification.
WXV 1 is the top tier of World Rugby’s inaugural three-tiered global initiative aimed at increasing the competitiveness, reach, value and impact of the elite women’s game.
New Zealand Rugby’s head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said the tournament provides an opportunity to further bolster the momentum in the woman’s game following the 2022 Rugby World Cup.
“To bring the likes of England and France down to New Zealand and see some of the rugby again that we saw last year is tremendously exciting.”
The series will run concurrently with the men’s Rugby World Cup, a scheduling decision that Lendrum said was not theirs.
Lendrum said NZR’s hands were tied.
“It’s a World Rugby decision around the dates so we took what we were given.”
However, he said fans won’t be forced to choose between the two national sides.
“I think the time zones will work well for New Zealand fixtures. What we’re expecting is a Friday night and then a double-header on Saturday at one venue each week.”
Lendrum said the women’s game attracts non traditional fans.
“I think the types of the brands of rugby played between the men’s and the women’s game are different and what we saw last year with the World Cup is there are a huge number of New Zealanders who don’t normally engage with rugby or necessarily attend fixtures came along to the Women’s World Cup.”
Lendrum said NZR intends to take the tournament around the country, more so than Rugby World Cup was able to do last year.
“That’s going to give our fans an opportunity all around New Zealand to engage with the Black Ferns and the other international teams and enjoy the festival.”
He believes the series will garner massive interest.
“I think we’ve got proven event capability in New Zealand. We’re very strong operationally in rugby our people do a fantastic job of putting tournaments and matches on so from World rugby’s perspective they can trust New Zealand to deliver we’re just really excited to be the ones that get to kick this tournament off.”
WXV1’s three match weekends will be 21 and 28 October and 4 November with venues and kick off times to be announced in the coming weeks.
The Black Ferns Test season will kick off on 29 June, with Australia hosting the Black Ferns in the first of two O’Reilly Cup matches at Kayo Stadium in Brisbane. The Test will double as a Pacific Four Series fixture.
The second O’Reilly Cup match will be played in New Zealand in September, with the venue still to be confirmed.
The Black Ferns will also travel to Canada in July for final two rounds of the Pacific Four Series with the goal of qualifying for WXV1.
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