Venues confirmed for New Zealand’s WXV games

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World Rugby has announced that Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington in New Zealand will host matches in the top tier of WXV, its new women’s international competition, later this year.

WXV 1 will feature the world’s top six international women’s rugby union teams playing across nine Tests from October 20 to November 4. Each match weekend venue will host a standalone Friday night match followed by a Saturday double-header.

Wellington’s Sky Stadium will stage the first event on October 20-21, before Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium (October 27-28) and Auckland’s Go Media Stadium Mt Smart (November 3-4).

The tournament will feature England, France and Wales, as well as the top three sides from the Pacific Four Series, which will be contested by New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada.

An announcement regarding the venue for WXV 2 in Cape Town and WXV 3 will be made shortly, World Rugby said. The host nation for WXV 3 has not yet been finalised, with World Rugby waiting until the line-up becomes clearer to maximise attendance, reach and impact.

World Rugby officially launched the WXV concept last month as part of a full overhaul of the women’s international calendar starting in 2023. It is hoped WXV will raise the profile and competitiveness of women’s 15s by providing a global platform between World Cups to increase the reach of the sport.

WXV represents the first international Test competition outside World Cups. New Zealand had already been announced as the WXV 1 host and the venues have now been confirmed.

Sally Horrox, World Rugby’s chief of women’s rugby, said: “We are thrilled to head to Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington for WXV 1 and to Cape Town in South Africa for WXV 2 as we push forward with our planning for the inaugural tournament alongside our hosts, New Zealand Rugby and South Africa Rugby.

“In New Zealand, from the get-go, we were committed to ensuring the tournament travelled to both the North and South Islands, showcasing some of the top teams in the world across the country and we can’t wait to see the players and the fans back watching international rugby this October.”