World Rugby has announced that New Zealand will host the 2022 edition of the Pacific Four Series in June as four of the world’s top teams go head-to-head ahead of Rugby World Cup 2021.
Contested by New Zealand, Australia, Canada and USA, the cross-regional, annual international competition acts as one of the principle annual qualification routes for the top tier of WXV from 2023 and will also serve as crucial preparation for Rugby World Cup 2021 which kicks off on 8 October, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand.
The competition will take place over three match days on 6, 12 and 18 June and will be played at two of the venues set to host Rugby World Cup 2021 – The Trusts Arena, Waitakere and Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei. Eligible fans will be able to purchase pre-sale tickets via Ticketek from 3 May, then tickets will go on general sale from 10 May.
As well as getting a taste of the action and excitement that will be on display at this year’s Rugby World Cup, the Pacific Four Series will also be the first time that fans will be able to witness the Black Ferns in action in an international test match on home soil since August 2019.
The World Rugby-funded competition originally soft launched in 2021 with Canada and USA going head-to-head on 1 and 5 November. Owing to challenges presented by the global pandemic, Australia and New Zealand were unable to participate in year one of the Pacific Four Series, and as such, the full four-team format will debut this June, creating a bumper schedule of competitive fixtures.
The primary objective of the Pacific Four Series is to increase the reach, competitiveness and value of women’s rugby, adding to a fully-aligned global calendar for the world’s top players which will begin in earnest in 2022.
As well as providing an opportunity for four Rugby World Cup 2021 qualified teams to gain meaningful game time in the lead-up to the pinnacle tournament, the Pacific Four Series is 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.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby is committed to increasing the competitiveness of the women’s game at the elite level through high-performance competitions. The Pacific Four Series comes at an exciting time in 2022 as these four teams look to build on their preparations for Rugby World Cup 2021 as well as looking further afield to WXV in 2023.
“In addition, the Pacific Four Series will also provide fans with an exciting opportunity to witness four of the world’s top teams in action prior to Rugby World Cup 2021, giving them a taste of what they can expect to see in October and November this year.
“Preparations for Rugby World Cup 2021 are progressing at a rapid pace and it is fantastic that we will be using The Trusts Arena in Auckland and Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei for the Pacific Four Series in June. This is an incredibly exciting year for women’s rugby, especially for New Zealanders, and we look forward to what will be two great showcases of the women’s game in the country.”
Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith said the Black Ferns are looking forward to vital test match rugby: “It’s been a long time since we have played tests in New Zealand. We know how important it is for us as a group to get these tests but also how important it is for New Zealand as a country to have the opportunity to get excited about women’s rugby in the build-up to the World Cup.”
All Pacific Four Series matches will be broadcast live in New Zealand on Spark Sport.
Pacific Four Series 2022 match schedule:
Monday, 6 June – KO 12:15 local time Canada v USA *
Monday, 6 June – KO 14:45 local time New Zealand v Australia *
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
*Venue to be confirmed for Monday, 6 June matches