Underscoring its commitment to increase competition, commercial and fan engagement opportunities while raising the competitiveness of the women’s game on the road to an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup 2025, World Rugby has launched WXV, a three-tiered annual competition model that will start in 2023.
- Sixteen-team, three-tier WXV global competition set to begin in 2023
- World Rugby to invest £6.4 million in its first two years
- Unified international 15s calendar to comprise of two playing windows on an annual basis, optimising player welfare and performance
- Ground-breaking global international 15s calendar set to accelerate development of women’s game ahead of expanded RWC 2025
- Calendar reflects World Rugby’s long-term commitment to establishing a highly competitive and global test calendar to elevate standards
- WXV will be supported by new Women in Rugby commercial programme
- WXV offers hosts diversified revenue-generating opportunities
Supported by an initial £6.4 million World Rugby investment, the three WXV competitions will feature 16 teams and will be hosted within a new September-October global competition window, except in a Rugby World Cup year.
Teams will qualify annually into the WXV competitions courtesy of their finishing positions within the respective existing annual regional competitions, such as the Women’s Six Nations. These regional competitions, played within a new regional window, must be completed by June each year.
To support the implementation of the WXV competitions, a new annual cross-region competition will be established which will act as one of the principle qualification routes for the top tier of WXV. This will feature Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA. This represents a huge step forward, providing a regular annual international competition for these teams, where previously there was none.
WXV 1 will consist of six teams and be played in a cross-pool format, at a standalone tournament in one location, which will be determined on a year-by-year basis.
Participating teams will include the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations (Europe) and the top three teams of the cross-regional tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA (Oceania/Rugby Americas North (RAN)). Each team will play three matches.
There will be no promotion or relegation in the first cycle (2023 and 2024) of WXV 1.
The WXV 2 competition will consist of six teams, playing in a cross-pool format, as a standalone tournament in one location, which will be determined on a year-by-year basis.
Participating teams for 2023 will include two teams from Europe, the fourth-placed team from the cross-regional tournament featuring Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA (Oceania/RAN) alongside one team from Oceania, Asia and Africa.
The sixth-placed regional position in the WXV 2 competition at the end of each season will be relegated to WXV 3.
WXV 3 will be hosted in one venue as a round-robin format and will consist of four teams with the winner and rankings determined by a points table. Participating teams will include two teams from Europe, one team from Asia and the winner of an Africa v South America play-off.
The top ranked regional position in the WXV 3 competition will be promoted to the WXV 2 competition at the end of each season.
A play-off between the fourth-ranked team and next best ranked team from the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will determine regional position for the next year.
Recognizing that globally women’s high-performance programmes are currently at differing levels and stages, World Rugby is committed to work in partnership with unions to support collective ambitions to progress women’s high-performance programmes forward in a realistic and appropriate pace of development to ensure optimal performance within the WXV.