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WXV, the new three-tier global women's rugby competition to launch in 2023

World Rugby has confirmed the format of an annual 16-team competition.

Ireland Women will be hoping to be part of the top-tier WXV 1.
Ireland Women will be hoping to be part of the top-tier WXV 1.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WORLD RUGBY HAS confirmed that a new annual global women’s rugby competition called WXV will launch in 2023.

The competition will feature 16 teams across three tiers in a new September/October window, except in World Cup years.

World Rugby has pledged £6.4 million to the new competition in its first two years and says the announcement underlines its commitment “to increase competition, and commercial and fan engagement opportunities” in the women’s game.

Nations will qualify for the WXV competition courtesy of their finishing positions within their respective annual regional competitions, including the Women’s Six Nations.

The top three teams in the Women’s Six Nations will qualify into the top-tier WXV 1 along with the top three teams from a cross-regional tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA.

WXV 1 will be played in a cross-pool format at a standalone tournament in one location, which will be determined on a year-by-year basis.

The second-tier WXV 2 competition will operate on a similar basis, with two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, as well as one team from Oceania, Asia and Africa.

Finally, the third-tier WXV 3 competition will involve only four teams – two from Europe, one team from Asia, and the winner of an Africa v South America play-off. WXV 3 will be hosted in one venue as a round-robin format.

World Rugby says there will be no promotion or relegation in the first cycle of WXV 1, but the sixth-placed regional position in the WXV 2 competition at the end of each season will be relegated to WXV 3.

The top-ranked regional position in WXV 3 will be promoted to WXV 2 at the end of each season, with a play-off between the fourth-ranked WXV 3 team and the next-best-ranked nation from the World Rugby rankings determining that regional position for the next year.

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World Rugby says the new WXV competition will be supported by a “Women in Rugby commercial programme” that aims to increase revenue in the women’s game.

“This is a landmark moment for the sport,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont. “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 a regional and global level.

“At the same time, we are also growing the profile, fanbase, and commercial revenue, generating opportunities for women’s rugby through the new Women in Rugby commercial programme.

“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.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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