Women’s Six Nations sides will have the opportunity to take on their rivals from across the globe on an annual basis as part of a landmark new competition being introduced from 2023.
World Rugby has today announced the launch of WXV, a three-tiered tournament featuring 16 teams which will be played in a seven-week window between September and October – apart from in World Cup years.
Teams will qualify for their tiers through finishing positions in their respective regional competitions, such as the Women’s Six Nations – from which the top three will qualify the inaugural WXV 1.
The top tier, which will not feature relegation in its first cycle, will also consist of the three highest finishers from a brand-new competition linking Oceania and Rugby Americas North (RAN), with Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA to go head-to-head to earn their qualification spots.
WXV 2 will feature two European teams, the fourth-placed team from the Oceania/RAN cross-regional tournament alongside one team from each of Oceania, Asia and Africa.
The sixth-placed regional position will be relegated to WXV 3, a round-robin competition consisting of four teams – two from Europe, one from Asia and the winner of an Africa v South America play-off – with the winner decided by points in a league table.
The top ranked regional position in the WXV 3 competition will be promoted to the WXV 2 competition at the end of each season.
A play-off between the fourth-ranked team in WXV 3 and the next best ranked team from the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will determine regional position for the next year.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This is a landmark moment for the sport. Today’s announcement of a new, global international 15s calendar will underpin the future success and accelerate the development of the women’s game.
“By establishing a unified international 15s calendar and introducing WXV we are creating a platform for the women’s international teams to compete in more consistent, competitive and sustainable competitions at regional and global level.
“This is an ambitious, long-term commitment to make the global game more competitive, to grow the women’s game and support the expansion of Rugby World Cup to 16 teams from 2025 and beyond.”
World Rugby General Manager of Women’s Rugby, Katie Sadleir said: “The new global 15s calendar and establishment of WXV is another major step forward for women’s rugby and women in rugby.
“Through consultation and partnership we will work with unions to support the development of high-performance pathways as they develop their women’s programmes, while supporting the overarching ambition of global growth.”
WXV format (from 2023)