Canadian team captain Sophie de Goede holds a tournament ball after a group photo with team captains in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, July 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canadian women to face Wales, England and France at WXV tournament in New Zealand

The fourth-ranked Canadian women’s rugby team will open against No. 6 Wales at this fall’s inaugural WXV tournament in New Zealand before facing No. 1 England and No. 3 France.

The WXV tournament features 18 teams split into three tiers with Canada in the elite WXV 1 division, which also features No. 2 New Zealand and No. 5 Australia. Subsequent editions of the tournament will see promotion and relegation between the tiers.

WXV 1 runs Oct. 20 through Nov. 4 with Canada playing Wales on Oct. 21 in Wellington, Six Nations champion England on Oct. 27 in Dunedin and France on Nov. 4 in Auckland.

The Canada-France game will be followed by a repeat of the 2021 Rugby World Cup between England and New Zealand.

The Canadian women qualified for the top tier by finishing second to world champion New Zealand at last month’s conclusion of the Pacific Four Series in Ottawa.

The WXV 2 will take place in South Africa with WXV 3 in Dubai.

“WXV represents the start of a new era for women’s rugby with the three-level tournament model providing opportunities for the best athletes around the world to show their skills on the international stage.” Sally Horox, World Rugby chief of women’s rugby, said in a statement.

“We’ve seen the rapid development of the women’s game in recent years and WXV will push it to another level again.”

Canada will play England in advance of the WXV with games Sept. 23 in Exeter and Sept. 30 in London. The two teams met in the semifinal of the World Cup with Canada pushing the Red Roses to the limit before falling 26-19.