South Africa set to host new World Rugby tournament, with a shot at increased game time

South Africa set to host new World Rugby tournament, with a shot at increased game time
Tayla Kinsey of South Africa. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andrew Cornaga)

In a bid to accelerate the growth and further improve the quality of the women’s game, World Rugby has launched a new three-tier international tournament for the globe’s 15s sides.

The more you do something, the more you inch as close as humanly possible to mastering it.

Hence those in women’s rugby circles have been increasingly vocal about the need for more matches to be played by women’s rugby teams. In order for the value of the game to increase even more than it has over the past decade.

World Rugby has heard these calls and acted accordingly. The global custodian of rugby has announced a new competition, which is set to propel women’s rugby to even higher levels. It will be known as WXV and will kick off in October 2023.

The competition will be broken up into three tiers of six teams each and will see 18 nations in total participating.

Tatyanna Heard of England in action against South Africa during the World Cup in Auckland on 23 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andrew Cornaga)

The hosts and winners of last year’s World Cup, New Zealand, will host the first tier of WXV, while South Africa will be responsible for organising the second tier of the inaugural tournament.  

The host for WXV3 is set to be named once the participating team picture becomes clearer, in order to maximise attendance, reach and impact.

The new spectacle has a clear mission: to raise the profile and competitiveness of women’s 15s by providing a global platform between Rugby World Cups, in order to accelerate the growth of the women’s game.

More games

Importantly, it will double the number of annual international fixtures for most competing teams. Many do not currently have the resources that frontrunners such as New Zealand and England possess.

One of the beneficiaries of this increased game time will be the Springbok Women – who had a disappointing showing at the World Cup in 2022 after failing to win a single match.

New Zealand’s Ayesha Leti-I’iga on the charge against Wales during their World Cup quarterfinal clash in Whangarei, New Zealand, on 29 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andrew Cornaga)

“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. I have no doubt that it is going to drive up the standard of the game,” former Irish international and SA Rugby’s high-performance manager for women’s rugby, Lynne Cantwell, said.

“We’re really happy that we can host this first tournament for teams in WXV2. 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,” continued Cantwell.

The Boks currently sit 13th on the global rankings and Cantwell hopes the increased game time for the hosts of tier two will help them climb the ladder and edge closer to the game’s current superpowers.

“It will also give our national team at least three more competitive Tests every year. 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 us more competitive and hopefully improve our world ranking,” she said.

The team’s participation is not guaranteed though, even as hosts. Louis Koen’s side must win the African Cup tournament in Madagascar towards the end of May. There they will face Cameroon (20 May), Kenya (24 May) and the host nation on 29 May.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Springbok Women’s Sevens qualify for World Series after Challenger victory in Stellenbosch

England, France and Wales have booked their place in WXV1. Scotland have secured a trip to South Africa to appear in WXV2 and Ireland are confirmed for WXV3. Italy will play Spain to determine which side will come to South Africa and who will fall to WXV3.

Hazel Tubic of New Zealand evades a tackle during their World Cup quarterfinal against Wales in Whangarei, New Zealand, on 29 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Andrew Cornaga)

The Pacific Four Series will determine the remaining three teams in WXV1 and one team in WXV2, with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA contesting the competition.

The remaining places will be determined via regional qualifiers, starting in May for Asia and Oceania. They will be played in Kazakhstan and Australia respectively. Brazil and Colombia will meet in a two-legged playoff to determine South America’s qualifier for the third tier. DM

How it works:


WXV1 will consist of six teams and be played in a cross-pool format. It will include the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations (Europe) and the top three sides from the World Rugby Pacific Four Series (Rugby Americas North/Oceania). Each team will play three matches.


The WXV2 competition will consist of six teams, played in a cross-pool format. Participating teams for 2023 will include two 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 WXV2 competition at the end of each season will be relegated to WXV3.


WXV3 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 WXV3 will be promoted to WXV2 and the bottom team will play off against the next best ranked side, according to the World Rugby women’s rankings.


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