A new global international 15-a-side rugby tournament makes its debut later this year and is set to revolutionise the women's game ahead of the 2025 Rugby World Cup in England.
But who is taking part? Where is it being held, how does it work and what is the end goal? This is WXV explained…
What is WXV?
WXV is a new three-tier annual worldwide international women’s 15s competition.
When does WXV start?
Why was it created?
World Rugby, who are investing £6.4m in the tournament, claim WXV will ‘revolutionise the women’s international rugby landscape’ and provide pathways for all unions and a ‘competitive springboard’ towards an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025.
How does it work?
As mentioned above, there’s three tiers; WXV1, WXV2 and WXV3.
WXV1 will feature six teams, including the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations and the top three teams of the cross-regional tournament featuring USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia (Oceania/Ran).
It will be played in a cross pool format as a stand-alone tournament in one location. Final placing will determined by a points table.
Is there promotion/relegation?
Not in the first season of WXV 1.
Who is participating in WXV2 and WXV 3?
Two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the cross-regional tournament (Oceania/Ran) alongside one team from Oceania, Asia and Africa.
It is played in the same six-team cross pool format, one location model as WXV1. However, who finishes sixth (last) will be relegated to WXV3.
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 on the Monday after the final match of WXV that year.
Does the competition have links to the World Cup?
Yes it most definitely does. At least the top five ranked non-qualified teams at the end of WXV2024 qualify for the 2025 World Cup in England.
Where are the first events taking place?
World Cup holder New Zealand will host the top level WXV1 across three matches weekends on October 21, 28 and November 4 this year.
South Africa is hosting WXV2 across three weekends of October 14, 21 and 28.
The third level WXV3 will be held on the same weekends WXV2, with the host nation to be announced at a later date.
What have top brass at World Rugby had to say?
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We made a pledge at a spectacular Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand to accelerate the advancement of the women’s game. Much progress is being made at rapid pace and today we are marking another milestone with confirmation of the dates and venues for the inaugural WXV competition.
“With women and girls leading our strategy to grow the sport on a global basis, this competition will increase the reach and impact of the sport and drive the overall competitiveness of women’s international rugby as we look forward to an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup 2025 in England and subsequent Rugby World Cups in Australia in 2029 and USA in 2033.”
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