South Africa will be one of the three new and exciting WXV tournament hosts later this year, as World Rugby places women at the forefront of its strategy to grow the sport to greater heights.
“We’re really happy that we can host this first tournament for teams in WXV 2!” – Lynne Cantwell, SA Rugby’s High-Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby
The WXV series, a new international competition aimed at increasing the competitiveness, reach and impact of elite women’s rugby, will be a clear mission to raise the profile of women’s 15s by providing the global platform between Rugby World Cups to increase the reach, impact and value of the sport as a whole.
With the first locations and dates having been announced by World Rugby, along with a vibrant brand for WXV, South Africa is down to host the six-team second tier WXV 2 competition in the Western Cape. Matches will be played across the weekends of 14, 21, and 28 October. South Africa’s WXV 2 tournament is one of three completely new and exciting tournaments.
WXV 1 will be hosted in New Zealand, while the host for WXV 3 is set to be named once the participating team picture becomes clearer in order to maximize attendance, reach, and impact.
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox said, “WXV is the flagship of the competitions pillar of our accelerating the global growth 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.”
South Africa to the Fore
Lynne Cantwell, SA Rugby’s High-Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby, praised World Rugby for designing and funding the competition, stating, “It’s massive for the women’s game and we can only commend World Rugby for designing and funding the competition where the top 18 teams in the world will get more competitive games to play, and I have no doubt that it is going to drive the standard of the game.”
“Domestically, we would love to market the women’s game as wide as possible, and by having it on our doorstep, we can reach out to many potential fans and players by bringing the game to them.”
The big incentive for the Springbok Women is a ticket to qualification in one of these tournaments, the WXV 2, which will be secured if they win the African Cup tournament in Madagascar towards the end of May. They face Cameroon on 20 May, Kenya on 24 May, and the host union on 29 May in Antananarivo.
Should the Boks Women win in Antananarivo, they get another opportunity to play in front of local supporters for the first time since hosting Spain in August 2022.
A Big Push for More Play
Most importantly, the WXV series will double the number of annual international fixtures for most competing teams, combining with World Rugby’s Accelerate program to raise standards at Rugby World Cup 2025 and beyond.
This time around, it will provide a good build-up to the 2024 season, which will be the next Rugby World Cup qualification cycle. More games will make South Africa more competitive and hopefully improve their world ranking.
World Rugby has unveiled a new brand-mark that gives the tournament its own fresh, unique visual identity, reflecting the energy, attitude, and personality of the women’s game today, and intentionally gives WXV its own brand platform to connect with women’s rugby fans and new audiences.
The New Tournaments Introduced by World Rugby:
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.
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 each 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, 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.
Photo 1 Caption: Springbok Women in line for added game time as World Rugby announces South Africa as one of three new WXV Tournament hosts as the global body places women at the forefront of its strategy to grow the sport to greater heights. Photo: SA Rugby