At a time when women’s rugby needs to be counted, England and France will host the World Champion Black Ferns in the 2021 International Autumn Series.
Announced by both the New Zealand Rugby and England Rugby Union(s) with an eye toward the 2022 schedule for the postponed Rugby World Cup tournament. That, as well as the new World Rugby Women’s XV competition, will be center of mind for France as well. All three sides will want to use the two tests per host, as staging points before the Women’s Six Nations and domestic rugby championships.
New Zealand is the current holder of the World Cup, and in the Coronavirus era, have not played a game in nearly two years. “In the lead up to next year’s World Cup we knew we needed to be playing some of the Six Nations teams, so confirming these fixtures is incredibly important. Coupled with the O’Reilly Cup and next year’s Elite Women’s XV (WXV) competition, we are building a strong calendar of rugby for players to prepare for the World Cup,” said Cate Sexton; New Zealand Rugby (NZR) head of women’s rugby.
The benefits are two-fold for each nation. A key opportunity to face a Tier One foe just under 12 months from the RWC, and to promote the rescheduled 2022 tournament itself.
England and France to host Black Ferns in 2021 Autumn Series
The first meeting of the series is due to take place on the weekend of October 29-31, with venues to be confirmed. Four matches have been agreed to by NZR and the RFU (England) and Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR), and is critical for all parties, none more so than the World Champion Black Ferns.
Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore said in an NZR media release, “Due to Covid19, we haven’t played a Test match in two years. It’s crucial for us to have fixtures against other tier one teams and to do it on the road gives us the ability to bond as a group, grow connections, work on combinations and develop the game we want to play.”
Domestic rugby had been played in New Zealand right up until the fixture announcement on Tuesday, yet that same afternoon, the NZ Government plunged the country into a . As case numbers rise, the postponement of the Farah Palmer Cup will concern the players and management. Expect NZR to promote vaccination for all current and probable players so they may be ready for International rugby.
— Sara Orchard (@Sara_Orchard) August 17, 2021
Touring the Northern Hemisphere would be ideal for the hosts as much. BBC reported that England head coach Simon Middleton said the matches would offer his players a chance to “stake an early claim” for a place in his World Cup squad. “No team won all four games in that Super Series [in 2019] so to now be able to play against three of the top six ranked teams in the world is something to look forward to and a great opportunity.
“All matches will give each team a marker of where they are and where they need to go in terms of World Cup preparations, which is hugely important and exciting for all.”
Facing the World Champion Black Ferns; like the Springboks in the men’s game, is the definitive test. Besides the actual RWC fixtures, simulating the conditions for England and France will bring rewards, before the 6Nations in February and March, 2022.
As well, England will host the United States and Canadian national teams in November.
Red Roses v New Zealand Black Ferns – October 29-31/November 5-7
England v Canada – 12-14 November | France v New Zealand
England v USA – 19-21 November | France v New Zealand
In related news for International Women’s Rugby, Katie Sadlier has chosen to depart World Rugby to take up a new role as Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Great to hear Katie Sadlier is the new – and first female – chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation! https://t.co/S1Je8nH7iI
— Women in Sport (@Womeninsport_uk) August 18, 2021
The former General Manager of Women’s Rugby, Katie joined World Rugby in 2016, collaborating with unions and regions to develop the transformational 2017-25 women’s strategic plan to accelerate the global development of women’s rugby and women in rugby at all levels, both on and off the pitch, within the sport.
Her efforts aligned with the massive growth of the women’s game. Moving from a once seen as ‘secondary game’ it now has many of the same professional support systems at International, provincial, and club levels. New competitions have been inspired and the awareness and celebration of participation, and the share of resources across all regions, is down to Sadlier and her team’s stellar input.
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