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England, Australia to kick off new women’s rugby tournament in NZ

England will face Australia in Wellington on October 20 to kick off a new women’s international rugby tournament, organisers announced Monday.

Top Pacific Four sides Australia, Canada and hosts New Zealand will play England, France and Wales, the top three from the Six Nations, in a cross-pool format over three consecutive weekends. 

The competition, called WXV, will also have two tiers of six lower-level nations, called WXV2 and WXV3, hosted in South Africa and Dubai respectively. 

The top tier, or WXV1, will see Canada play Wales and world champions New Zealand face France in a Wellington double-header to round off the opening weekend on Saturday October 21. 

The second round of matches moves to Dunedin on October 27-28 with Canada v England, New Zealand v Wales and Australia v France.

The three-week tournament wraps up at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium with Australia facing Wales on Friday, November 3, followed by a Saturday double-header of Canada v France and New Zealand v England — a repeat of the 2021 World Cup final.

“WXV represents the start of a new era for women’s rugby with the three-level tournament model providing opportunities for the best athletes around the world to show their skills,” said Sally Horrox, chief of women’s rugby at World Rugby.

“We’ve seen the rapid development of the women’s game in recent years and WXV will push it to another level again,” she added.

All three tiers of the tournament will take place while the men’s Rugby World Cup is being staged in France with the two lower tiers beginning on October 13.

WXV2 hosts South Africa, Italy, Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the USA will compete in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

The third tier, WXV3, will be played in Dubai and feature Colombia, Fiji Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Spain.

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