There has never been a more exciting period in the growth of women’s rugby and the upcoming World Rugby Pacific Four Series is the perfect competition for supporters to whet their appetite ahead of Rugby World Cup 2021 later in the year.
 
After launching last year in the USA, the Pacific Four Series for 2022 will be held in New Zealand in June and will allow the hosts, Canada, Australia and the USA to play three high-level fixtures each.
 
The four countries will then be back in New Zealand in October and November for the much-anticipated Rugby World Cup along with eight other top nations.
 
Last year, USA and Canada competed in the streamlined inaugural event in Glendale, Colorado, playing each other twice last November. Canada came out on top 15-9 and 26-13.

This year will see New Zealand and Australia join the competition, having been prevented from playing in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, with six test matches played in a round-robin format from 6-18 June.
 
As well as providing an opportunity for the Rugby World Cup 2021 qualified teams to gain meaningful game time in the lead-up to the pinnacle tournament, the Pacific Four Series is also one of the principal 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.
 
As a result, there is set to be some cracking action and thrills and spills and tickets can be bought here.

USA 2031 and 2033 : United by Rugby
USA will make history by becoming the first North American nation to host Rugby World Cup. The men's tournament will play in 2031 and the women's in 2033.

Ramping up Rugby World Cup preparations

The first match on 6 June pits Canada, third in the current World Rugby Women's Rankings powered by Capgemini, against seventh in the world USA.
 
Canada's new head coach Kevin Rouet said: “While preparations have been underway for a while now, this really feels like the start of our journey to the Rugby World Cup.
 
“The Pacific Four Series will provide us with a fantastic opportunity to test ourselves against some of the world’s best teams.
 
“Everyone has worked very hard to get to this point, but this is where things ramp up.”
 
There is a spring in the step of everyone involved in rugby in the USA after the country was named in May as the host location for the men's Rugby World Cup 2031 and women's Rugby World Cup 2033.
 
USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Ross Young said: “USA Rugby will now venture into a new era and ensure the sport’s most treasured event is a springboard for creating lasting, sustainable enthusiasm and passion for rugby from coast to coast. 
 
“We look forward to partnering with World Rugby in the years ahead to ensure that our preparations for these tournaments and the events themselves are a paradigm-shifting catalyst for the growth of our sport, not only here in the United States but around the world.”
 
In the second meeting between the teams in last year’s Pacific Four Series, Sophie de Goede scored 11 points to help Canada to a 26-13 victory.
 
De Goede, Courtney Holtkamp, Alex Ellis and Karen Paquin scored tries for Canada while De Goede also kicked three conversions.
 
Kate Zackary scored a try for the USA with Gabby Cantorna kicking eight points.

Blacks Ferns playing catch-up

And on the same day as Canada v USA, New Zealand – second in the world behind England and known as the Black Ferns – will compete in a test match on home soil for the first time since August 2019 versus Australia.

Black Ferns coaches, Wayne Smith, Wesley Clarke and Whitney Hansen, have named 31 players in their squad for the event and Ruahei Demant will lead them.
 
“We’ve been looking at videos and doing a lot of education around what type of game we want to play,” Smith said.
 
“There is potentially a bit of an experimental tinge to things, but we know we have some catching up to do and now is the time to do it.”
 
Australia – fifth in the world and known as the Wallaroos – played home test matches against Fiji (36-19) and Japan (10-12) in May to warm up for the Pacific Four Series.
 
Like the USA, they have also been buoyed by the news that their country will host Rugby World Cup 2027 for men and Rugby World Cup 2029 for women.
 
Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said: “It’s a game-changer for rugby in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalise and secure the future of the sport here and see the game we all love to grow and thrive for years to come.”
 
The two mouth-watering 6 June matches take place at the Tauranga Domain in the Bay of Plenty, while the second round of fixtures – USA against Australia and Canada versus New Zealand – will be in The Trusts Arena, Waitakere, Auckland, on 12 June.
 
And the final round of fixtures, when Australia face off against Canada and New Zealand tackle the USA, will be in the Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei on 18 June.
 
Pacific Four Series 2022 match schedule: 
 
Monday, 6 June – KO 12:15 local time  
Canada v USA 
Tauranga Domain, Tauranga
 
Monday, 6 June – KO 14:45 local time 
New Zealand v Australia
Tauranga Domain, Tauranga
 
Sunday, 12 June – KO 12:15 local time  
USA v Australia  
The Trusts Arena, Waitakere, Auckland 
 
Sunday, 12 June – KO 14:45 local time  
Canada v New Zealand   
The Trusts Arena, Waitakere, Auckland 
 
Saturday, 18 June – KO 13:30 local time  
Australia v Canada  
Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei  
 
Saturday, 18 June – KO 16:00 local time  
New Zealand v USA  
Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei