March 17, 2021
World Rugby launched a new annual three-tier global women's tournament which is described as a ‘game-changer that creates a more competitive international landscape and grows the Women's Rugby World Cup from 12-16 teams.
Underscoring its commitment to increase competition, commercial, and fan engagement opportunities while raising the competitiveness of the women’s game on the road to an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup 2025, while the three-tiered annual competition model will start in 2023.
Supported by an initial £6.4 million World Rugby investment, the three WXV competitions will feature 16 teams and will be hosted within a new September-October global competition window, except in a Rugby World Cup year.
Teams will qualify annually into the WXV competitions courtesy of their finishing positions within the respective existing annual regional competitions, such as the Women’s Six Nations.
These regional competitions, played within a new regional window, must be completed by June each year.
To support the implementation of the WXV competitions, a new annual cross-region competition will be established which will act as one of the principal qualification routes for the top tier of WXV.
This will feature Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and USA and represents a huge step forward, providing a regular annual international competition for these teams, where previously there was none.
WXV 1 will consist of six teams and be played in a cross-pool format, at a standalone tournament in one location, which will be determined on a year-by-year basis.
Participating teams will include the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations (Europe) and the top three teams of the cross-regional tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and USA (Oceania/Rugby Americas North (RAN)). Each team will play three matches.
The WXV 2 competition will consist of six teams, playing in a cross-pool format, as a standalone tournament in one location, which will be determined on a year-by-year basis.
Participating teams for 2023 will include two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the cross-regional tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and USA (Oceania/RAN) alongside one team from Oceania, Asia, and Africa.
WXV 3 will be hosted in one venue as a round-robin format and will consist of four teams with the winner and rankings determined by a points table. Participating teams will include two teams from Europe, one team from Asia, and the winner of an Africa v South America play-off.
By Romeka Romena