The fixtures will not be confirmed until the final line-up is known but it will be a cross-pool format with each side playing three matches and there is every chance that the Red Roses could face the Black Ferns for the first time since losing last year’s World Cup final – and on New Zealand soil. World Rugby confirmed on Friday that New Zealand will host WXV1, with matches played in different cities across three weekends, Oct 21 and 28 and Nov 4.
Therein lies one of the flaws of this year’s launch event: two of those weekends clash with the men’s World Cup semi-finals and final, so how much exposure and cut-through will WXV get?
The “mission” of WXV, according to World Rugby’s press release, is to raise the profile of the women’s game but it is going to be hard to do that with the sport’s biggest event reaching its climax at the same time. The two tournaments may be taking place in different time zones but the focus of rugby fans and media will be firmly on events in France, with broadcasters in particular unlikely to have huge budgets or airtime to bid for the rights.
What you actually do is have all of these competitions on the same annual cycle, in the same place. As with mooted plan have the Nations’ Cup (ie, all the second line national teams who didn’t make the World Cup) in the same place and at the same time as the World Cup.
Every four years have that 6 week (?) jamboree of all rugby – major nations, minor, male and female – in the same place at the same time.
If nothing else the cross breeding certainties will improve the game in the next generation.