International Women’s series set to ‘Roar’ downunder for Red Roses

England Red Roses v Scotland Women - Women's Six Nations

It was the muffled roar of Warren Gatland’s Lions that was chosen as the opening soundtrack to a hugely anticipated summer of rugby, that finally hit our TV screens last weekend. The men would begin the calendar but an International Women’s Series quadrangular competition should also hold fans attention.

While the men opened the tour, yet for all their singing practice, the British and Irish Lions found themselves drowned out by an more agile, quick-thinking Provincial Barbarian side. That did not appear to ‘go to plan’. It has since prompted countless jet lag theories, the old ‘Warrenball’ critics have come out of their hiding places and dubious pundits pour tirelessly again over player selections. With the men’s game, there is so much attention, and so many variables.

While this is certainly a historic summer for Gatland’s Lions – who are bidding to beat New Zealand in a test series for the first time since 1971 –  it is an even greater one for the women’s game. New Zealand host a four nation series that coincides with the International fixtures; some held as curtain raisers for the Lions tour games.

Where thousands of Lions fans have flocked, women’s rugby has also followed – with the International Women’s Series, which kicks off this Friday when England face Australia in Wellington.

The three-test tour; designed as warm-up experience ahead of England’s defense of their Women’s Rugby World Cup crown in Dublin, will culminate in the Red Roses facing Allan Bunting’s Black Ferns (see below image) in Rotorua on June 17.

In an amazing opportunity to help ‘grow the women’s game’ it will be played right before the touring British and Irish Lions take on the Maori All Blacks.

Selica Winiata of the Black Ferns makes a break during the international womens Test match between the New Zealand Black Ferns and the Australian Wallaroos at Eden Park. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Hunter Weary of Australian Threat at International Women’s Series

Speaking ahead of their fixture with Australia on Friday, England’s Sarah Hunter said: “Travelling across the world to play in a different environment is something certainly unique and something that we’ll have to get with grips with pretty quickly.

“The Australians are very natural rugby players so I can only imagine that they’ll have got better. They are a very unknown quantity – we’ll have a bit of information about them that week which we can use.

“But it will be very much about us imposing ourselves and our game onto Australia and any other team.”

“For us it will be about how we create good, solid platforms from our set pieces, for our backs to play off ultimately, and how we can play at a tempo and control the game how we want to play.”

A Tournament for ‘Tweaking Tactics’ Before WRWC

England Director of Rugby, Simon Middleton will use the tournament as a prime opportunity to experiment with different player combinations and fine-tuning tactics before the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Middleton said: “Top of the agenda for any international game is to win, we also have great strength and depth and we want to exploit this to full effect throughout the series.

“We want to cover all bases in terms of combinations and making sure that our game understanding and game execution are where we want them to be.”

A record-breaking number of tickets have been sold for the Women’s Rugby World Cup and last month it was revealed that a female equivalent of the British and Irish Lions could be formed as early as 2019.