Oceania women's teams set to battle for world spots

Two spots in the World Rugby WXV global women's 15s competition in Europe in October are up for grabs at the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship, which kicks off on Friday on Australia's Gold Coast.

The competition will be contested by the Fijiana XV (Fiji), Cassowaries (Papua New Guinea), Manusina XV (Samoa) and Fuifuilupe (Tonga).

The first-place team will qualify in WXV-Tier 2 and the second placed team for WXV-Tier 3.

The event will also serve as a platform for Pacific players to be selected for the Oceania Women's Combine in August this year, in which the selectors will identify potential players to join Australia's Super W teams on a PacificAus Sports' scholarship.

Oceania Rugby General Manager, Frank Puletua, said at the competition launch this week that it is a significant tournament for women's rugby in the region.

"The opportunity for our regional teams to go on to compete in World Rugby's WXV from the Oceania Championship is a game changer for women's rugby in Oceania," Puletua said.

"We will see more of our teams, especially from the Pacific, exposed to more international rugby on an annual basis which will only lift their standards and competitiveness."

Fijiana skipper Sereima Leweniqila said the tournament is important, not only as they aim to defend their title but to qualify for the World XV for the first time.

"The opportunity to play for WXV is really important, with more exposure and game time, it'll empower, inspire young girls to join rugby and we get to preach the gospel of rugby to not only Fiji but also our neighbouring Pasifika sisters," she said.

"To be qualified, it'll give so much more inspiration for younger girls to join and get on board of the women's rugby around the Pacific.

"We are quite excited, we've got a few young girls, preparations and team bonding has been high, so we got go out there and try and defend our title."

A total of six matches will be played across three days of competition.

Fiji will kick off the competition against PNG at the Bond University ground while Samoa and Tonga clash at 9.30pm (Queensland time) on Friday.