Details are starting to emerge about the new WXV competition.
New Zealand and South Africa will host the top two tiers of World Rugby’s new global women’s competition, the WXV.
Off the back of a record-breaking World Cup where the Black Ferns were crowned champions, New Zealand will welcome the top six teams to WXV 1 across three match weekends on 21 and 28 October and 4 November.
Cape Town in South Africa will play host to the six-team second level WXV 2 with matches being played across the weekends of 14, 21 and 28 October.
Both competitions will be played in a cross-pool format and the match schedule,
With the qualification process still going on, so far England, France and Wales have booked their place in WXV 1. Scotland have secured a place in WXV 2, and Ireland are confirmed for WXV 3. Italy will now play-off against Spain to determine the final European representatives in WXV 2 and WXV 3.
The World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023 will determine the remaining three teams in WXV 1 and one team in WXV 2 with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA contesting the competition featuring the top two teams in Oceania and North America.
The remaining places will be determined via regional qualifiers, starting in May with competitions in Africa, Asia and Oceania being played in Madagascar, Kazakhstan and Australia respectively, while Brazil and Colombia will meet in a two-leg play-off to determine South America’s qualifier for WXV 3.
The third level WXV 3 dates will mirror the same weekends as WXV 2 with the host set to be named once the participating team picture becomes clearer in order to maximise attendance, reach and impact.
WXV is set as a format for the first two years, but a full review will be undertaken in 2025 to see if the timing and planning is working.
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox added: “WXV is the flagship of the competitions pillar of our Accelerating the global development of women in rugby strategy. It is more than a world-class competition, it is a statement of intent, a vehicle to supercharge the reach, competitiveness and value of elite women’s rugby and growing rugby more broadly, projecting the sport to new audiences in new markets.
“We are on a three-year sprint to an expanded Rugby World Cup 2025 in England and WXV will ensure that the world’s top teams will have access to an unprecedented and sustainable level of annual fixtures and a transparent competition pathway for all that will boost performance.
“In addition, our relationship with participating teams is more than simply an event owner. We will be a partner, a supporter and investor, with our ‘Accelerate’ programme helping unions advance the women’s game on and off the field, not just in the short term at Rugby World Cup 2025, but as a long-term commitment through to a transformative Rugby World Cup in 2033.”
WXV 1 will consist of six teams and be played in a cross-pool format. Participating teams will include the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations (Europe) and the top three teams from the World Rugby Pacific Four Series (Rugby Americas North/Oceania). Each team will play three matches. There will be no relegation or promotion for the first two years.
The WXV 2 competition will consist of six teams, playing in a cross-pool format. Participating teams for 2023 will include two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the Pacific Four Series, alongside one team from Oceania, Asia and Africa.
The sixth-placed regional position in the WXV 2 competition at the end of each season will be relegated to WXV 3.
WXV 3 will also be played as a cross-pool format, made up of six teams: two from Europe and one from Asia, Oceania, Africa and South America. The regional position of the winner of WXV 3 will be promoted to WXV 2 and the bottom team will play off against the next best ranked side, according to the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini on the Monday after the final match of WXV that year.