The World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023 came to a thrilling conclusion in Ottawa last Friday as placings were decided for the inaugural edition of WXV.
New Zealand successfully defended the Pacific Four Series title that they won on home soil last year with a come-from-behind 39-17 defeat of the USA at TD Place Stadium.
Canada, the hosts, beat Australia in the final match of the Series 45 – 7 and both now join the Rugby World Cup 2021 winners in WXV1, being played in New Zealand in October.
The USA, who led the Black Ferns 17-5 at half-time, will take their place in WXV2, when it gets underway in Cape Town on the weekend of 14 October.
We are now one match away from confirming the full line-up for all three tiers of WXV. The winner of Saturday’s play-off between Italy and Spain in Piacenza will qualify for WXV 2, whilst the losing team will qualify for WXV 3 being hosted in Dubai also on the same weekend as WXV 2.
Rugby comes to Ottawa
Fans witnessed a wonderful two weeks of rugby in Ottawa with Australia and New Zealand claiming victories on the opening night, in front of a record-breaking crowd of 10,092 at TD Place Stadium.
Attendances are building steadily in the women’s game, with a record-breaking Australian crowd in Brisbane the previous week and landmark attendances in Wales, Scotland, England and Madagascar earlier this year.
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby, Sally Horrox was part of a delegation that visited Canada during the tournament.
As well as attending the U20 women’s international between Canada and Wales at Twin Elms Rugby Park, which the visitors won 39-12, Horrox and her team met with key stakeholders to explore the potential for the growth of rugby in Canada.
The team discussed how World Rugby and Rugby Canada could work together to grow the game, in the build-up to the RWC 2025 in England, RWC 2029 in Australia and RWC 2033 in the USA.
In the lead-up to, and during, the 2023 Pacific Four Series, Rugby Canada and Rugby Ontario rolled out a series of community events in Ottawa which included Let’s Play Rugby presented by NFP, which was launched as a 10-week pilot in September 2022 with the support of World Rugby.
This programme is designed to provide girls aged between 13-17 with an opportunity to play a non-contact version of the game. As a result of all the community activity across Ottawa, 2,059 youngsters (more than 200 of whom were new to rugby) took part in 68 Let’s Play Rugby sessions and 3,000 balls were delivered to 230 schools and 12 clubs.
Local players between the ages of 13-16 were also given the chance to run out onto the TD Place pitch for Let’s Play Rugby sessions held during half-time of Canada’s games against New Zealand and Australia.
Before their first match against the Black Ferns, Canada’s senior squad held an open training session at Twin Elm Rugby Park, and hosted a Let’s Play Rugby Festival presented by NFP, passing on their skills and knowledge to potential stars of the future.
Between Pacific Four Series assignments, Canadian players attended a Community Visit with the Algonquins of Pikawakanagan on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Anishinabe Alqonguin people. Elders taught them about the land and their history in what is an important step as Rugby Canada and all Canadians take steps towards reconciliation.
Players interacted with the local children, teaching them rugby skills and gifting rugby balls. Councillors Merv Sarazin and Naveah Sarazin then went on to lead the welcome at the stadium ahead of both Canada’s matches alongside the Spirit Wolf Singers and the Pikwakanagan Fancy Dancers.
Horrox said: “Last week, we were fortunate to be hosted by Rugby Canada, who showed us first-hand the important work that is going on across Canada to grow the girls' and women’s game.
“Not only was it inspiring to see the fantastic community events taking place in Ottawa, it was also wonderful to witness first-hand the Pacific Four Series, and the next generation of exciting talent coming through the U20 competition.
“Thank you to the Province of Ontario and to Rugby Canada for working together to create such a strong partnership. It was great to see this rewarded with a record-breaking crowd of over 10,000 fans, with many more engaged globally.
“Congratulations to Rugby Canada and to the City of Ottawa for hosting such an impressive Series. Its success is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team and reflects Rugby Canada’s commitment and vision for the women’s game.”
Rugby Canada CEO Nathan Bombrys reflected on the part fortnight with pride and believes the benefits of hosting will be felt for years to come. “The City of Ottawa was a great host for our two-week celebration of rugby, with the record-setting crowd at TD Place making Saturday 8, July the largest day of women’s rugby in Canadian history,” he said.
"We are proud of what was accomplished by our players, staff, local clubs and volunteers —two full days of elite rugby in the heart of Canada’s capital, three weeks of community events that inspired and introduced local children to our sport, 3,000 rugby balls donated to Ottawa schools, and integration and knowledge-sharing between our national age grade and our Women’s national team.
"Rugby in Canada continues to grow, and we believe that the Pacific Four Series has left a long-lasting legacy for Ottawa and the province of Ontario.”