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England set sights on WXV 1 title defence in Canada

The Red Roses beat defending world champions New Zealand last time out in the inaugural WXV 1 competition

The WXV tournament has become central to World Rugby’s ambition to accelerate the growth of the women’s game
The WXV tournament has become central to World Rugby’s ambition to accelerate the growth of the women’s game (AAPIMAGE, Reuters Connect via Beat Media Group Subscription)

England’s Red Roses are set to travel to Canada for their WXV 1 title defence as they plan ahead for their Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 charge.

John Mitchell’s side will pitch for their first World Cup title since 2014 on home soil next year and a top-three finish at the Guiness Women’s Six Nations will secure a spot at WXV 1 in the autumn.

The Red Roses made amends for their loss in the RWC 2021 final against hosts New Zealand by travelling to the southern hemisphere again in 2023, winning the inaugural WXV 1 tournament and beating the Black Ferns in the process.

Alongside New Zealand, Canada and France, England have already booked their place at the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 by reaching semi-finals of the previous edition in 2022.

A further six teams will qualify as winners of six regional tournaments in 2024 and the final six spots will go to the highest finishing WXV teams who have not yet qualified through RWC 2021 and regional tournaments.

And the second edition of WXV, the landmark competition launched by World Rugby to transform the women's game, will be the perfect launchpad for the Red Roses.

As well as Canada hosting WXV 1, World Rugby have announced that South Africa will host WXV 2 once again, while WXV 3 will return to Dubai.

World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox said: “We are delighted to be working with Rugby Canada, the South African Rugby Union and Dubai to host WXV later this year.

“The tournament plays a fundamental role in helping us to grow women’s rugby and provides more opportunities for players, showcases the game to more fans and inspires more girls to play.

“Our hosts all share our ambition to take the tournament to the next level and further strengthen the development of the women’s game.”

The WXV tournament has become central to World Rugby’s ambition to accelerate the growth of the women’s game.

Highlights last year included Scotland's 38-7 bonus-point victory over Japan in WXV 2 which saw them crowned champions, narrowly pipping Italy on points difference despite the Azzurre’s own bonus-point victory over USA.

WXV 3 saw a nail-biting showdown between Ireland and Spain, with Scott Bemand’s team clinching the win 15-13 to take the trophy home to Ireland.

Following record crowds at the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023, Canada, who are flying high in the top four of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings, will host WXV 1.

Building on the momentum achieved in 2023, WXV 2 returns to South Africa and WXV 3 to Dubai, delivering a world class environment for all teams involved.

All three tournaments will be played across the same three weekends to enable the six qualification spots to be confirmed immediately after the conclusion of the tournament
All three tournaments will be played across the same three weekends to enable the six qualification spots to be confirmed immediately after the conclusion of the tournament. (World Rugby)

Horrox added: “It is crucial that teams get sufficient preparation and game-time ahead of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, and WXV is designed to help to provide this for players and coaches alike.

“I saw first-hand just how much the competitiveness grew across the tournament last year and I look forward to the same again.”

This year’s tournament will kick off earlier in the calendar to support the planning and best preparation for union for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025.

All three levels will play across the same three weekends to enable the six qualification spots to be confirmed immediately after the conclusion of the tournament.

Match scheduling and ticket information is set to be announced in the coming weeks.