19 Jun 2023

NZ venues for inaugural WXV 1 tournament confirmed

5:01 pm on 19 June 2023
Empty stadium. Maori All Blacks v Manu Samoa, Sky Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday 26 June 2021.

Wellington will host six of top women's rugby teams later this year. Photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

The world's top six international women's rugby teams will play in Wellington, Dunedin and Auckland during the inaugural WXV 1 tournament.

The teams will play nine tests during the tournament from 20 October to 4 November, with each venue hosting a standalone Friday night test followed by a Saturday double-header.

England, France, and Wales have already locked in their participation in the tournament with the remaining teams to come from the top-three finishers of the Pacific Four Series.

The Pacific Four Series will be contested between the reigning world cup champion Black Ferns as well as Australia, USA and Canada.

Black Ferns forward Alana Bremner said the WXV1 was an exciting addition to the women's rugby calendar.

"[To] come up against some of the best in the world - that's exactly what you want to be able to play, year-in year-out, so really hoping to qualify for that as it is in New Zealand, and I think it's really going to grow the game around the world," Bremner said.

"Everyone I've talked to is really looking forward to it."

New Black Ferns assistant coach Tony Christie was pleased New Zealand Rugby had secured taking WXV1 games to centres that had missed out on matches during last year's Rugby World Cup.

Former Black Ferns captain and NZR Board deputy chair Dame Farah Palmer said it was "an absolute privilege to have talented wāhine from the top six teams in the world playing across our country".

"Last year's Rugby World Cup gave New Zealanders a taste of how thrilling and exciting the women's game is, and now we have the chance to showcase these world class athletes across our country.

"We hope to see fans re-ignite the passion they showed for rugby and women's sport during the Rugby World Cup and to re-create the unique and exciting atmosphere that captured the imagination of the rugby world."

To ensure the Black Ferns are playing in the tournament New Zealand is hosting, they first have to perform against Australia, USA and Canada.

The Black Ferns test season will kick off on 29 June, with Australia hosting the first of two O'Reilly Cup matches in Brisbane. The test will double as a Pacific Four Series fixture.

The second O'Reilly Cup match will be played in New Zealand on 30 September in Hamilton.

The Black Ferns travel to Canada in July for final two rounds of the Pacific Four Series.

WXV 1 Schedule:

20-21 October: Sky Stadium, Wellington

27-28 October: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

3-4 November: Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, Auckland