The first teams to confirm their places in the inaugural WXV competition could be known this weekend if England and France avoid defeat in their penultimate matches in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations 2023 against Ireland and Wales respectively.
With the top three teams in the Women’s Six Nations 2023 qualifying for the top tier of WXV later this year, a draw or win would mean that England and France cannot finish outside the top three.
Wales currently occupy the third position in the standings with Italy needing a win over Scotland to remain in the hunt for a place in WXV 1 ahead of the meeting between the sides in Parma on 29 April.
The top three teams in the Women’s Six Nations will be joined in WXV 1 by the teams finishing in the top three of the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023, which features Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA.
Canada won the opening match of the Pacific Four Series earlier this month, beating USA 50-17 in Madrid. Australia and New Zealand will kick-off their campaign in Brisbane on 29 June before all four teams converge on Ottawa in Canada for the remaining two rounds of matches.
The Pacific Four Series placings will be confirmed after the final round on 14 July.
There is just as much to play for among the teams currently ranked fourth to sixth in the Women’s Six Nations with places in WXV 2 and WXV 3 to be determined. The team placing fourth will enter WXV 2 with the sixth-placed team automatically going into WXV 3. The fifth-placed team will face a play-off against Spain, the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2023 winners, to determine who qualifies for WXV 2 and WXV 3.
Away from the Women’s Six Nations and Pacific Four Series, the regional qualification process will soon be getting underway for teams in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.
First up will be the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup Division 1 with Cameroon, Kenya, hosts Madagascar and South Africa contesting the round-robin tournament from 20-28 May in Antananarivo. The winner will advance to WXV 2 with the runner-up taking their place in WXV 3.
This signals the start of a busy period of women’s rugby with the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship and Oceania Rugby Women’s 15s Championship both getting underway in May.
RWC 2021 participants Japan meet China with Hong Kong China also taking on Kazakhstan on the first day of the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2023 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 23 May. The winners of the two matches will then face-off on 28 May to determine who goes into WXV 2 and WXV 3.
Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga will then contest the Oceania Rugby Women’s 15s Championship in Brisbane, Australia, between 26 May and 4 June. The winner will take their place in WXV 2 with the runners-up representing Oceania in WXV 3.
South America’s representatives in the first year of WXV will be either Brazil or Colombia, who will meet in a two-leg play-off in July. The winner will qualify for WXV 3 in 2023.
The host locations and dates for the tiers of the inaugural WXV competition will be revealed following the conclusion of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
World Rugby, alongside its regional associations and member unions, is developing a unified global calendar to support increased and consistent elite level women’s 15s competition.
How WXV works
The top tier of competition will consist of six teams and be played in a cross-pool format.
Participating teams will be the top three teams from the TikTok Women’s Six Nations 2023 (Europe) and the top three teams from the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023 (Rugby Americas North/Oceania).
Each team will play three matches.
The second tier will also consist of six teams, playing in a cross-pool format.
Participating teams for 2023 will be two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the Pacific Four Series, alongside the winners of the regional women’s championships in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
The European teams will be the fourth-placed side in the Women’s Six Nations 2023 and the winner of a play-off between the fifth-placed team and Spain, the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2023 winners.
The region represented by the team that finishes bottom of WXV 2 at the end of each tournament, will be relegated to WXV 3 for the following year.
The final tier will also feature six teams, playing in a cross-pool format.
Participating teams for 2023 will be two teams from Europe and one each from Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.
Europe’s representatives will be the loser of the play-off between the fifth-placed team in the Women’s Six Nations and Spain, the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2023 winners, as well as the bottom-placed team in the Women’s Six Nations.
They will be joined by the runners-up in the regional women’s championship in Africa, Asia and Oceania with the final place going to the winner of a play-off between Colombia and Brazil who will represent South America.
The regional position of the WXV 3 winner will be promoted to WXV 2 for the following year. The team finishing bottom of WXV 3 will play-off against the next-best ranked side, according to the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini update on the Monday immediately following the final match of WXV that year.