Blacks Ferns join Pacific Four Series

The Black Ferns are guaranteed more games ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup with addition of the Pacific Four Series to the women's rugby calendar.

The new series will give four of the top nations - New Zealand, Australia, Canada and USA - regular international fixtures.

The World Rugby-funded competition will soft launch this year with Canada and USA going head-to-head on 1 and 5 November and New Zealand and Australia will join in 2022 due to current Covid-19 restrictions.

The annual cross-regional series has been developed to meet the governing body's commitment to providing consistent high performance competition for elite women's international teams.

For the Black Ferns the series will provide some top competition in the lead-up to their defence of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand which has been delayed until October next year.

The series will act as one of the principle annual qualification routes for the top tier of WXV, with the top three-placed teams competing in WXV 1 and the fourth-placed team competing in WXV 2 from 2023 onwards.

WXV involves the top 16 nations in women's rugby, split into three divisions, and is due to begin in 2023.

The top three teams for the Women's Six Nations, plus the top three from the Pacific Four Series will contest WXV1.

WXV2 will be played in the same format and will involve two teams from Europe, the bottom-placed team from the Pacific Four Series and one other team from Oceania, as well as one each from Asia and Africa.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "The Pacific Four Series will provide quality playing opportunities and further support teams as they prepare to compete at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand next year.

"We look forward to watching teams compete again at the highest level for what will undoubtedly be a thrilling showcase of women's elite rugby from some of the best teams in the world."

The format for next year's Pacific Four Series is yet to be revealed.

The Black Ferns' next matches are against England and France on ther Northern Tour in November.