The Black Ferns will play Canada and Australia in the 2014 International Series ahead of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in France, New Zealand Rugby announced today.
In announcing the Series, New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the matches will be an important platform for the current world champions as they bid for a fifth consecutive World Cup success.
“Next year’s programme will give the Black Ferns the ideal preparation before they travel to France to compete for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August. It also provides Canada and Australia with an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs before getting stuck into their own World Cup campaigns,” he said.
Next year’s programme has been announced on the back of a successful inbound 2013 season when England were defeated 3-0 by a dominant and determined Black Ferns side in July.
“We saw a very gutsy Black Ferns team fight hard for their wins over England during this year’s International Series. The victories were particularly special as the Series opener marked a significant milestone with the 1,000th international match in women’s world rugby.”
The International Series will see the Black Ferns play the Canadian women and the Australian Wallaroos, with the visiting teams also playing each other in New Zealand.
Black Ferns head coach Brian Evans said the International Series would be a great opportunity to promote talent on display during this year’s Women’s Provincial Championship.
“We have seen some really good and entertaining rugby in this year’s competition, and we know there are some new faces, and young faces that would love the opportunity to play for their country,”said Evans.
Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance Mike Chu said they were excited at the prospect of testing their national team against the world champions.
“This is a pretty unique opportunity. Women’s rugby has grown at a remarkable pace in Canada, and New Zealand is definitely one of the teams all countries look to beat,” said Chu.
“We believe we will have a competitive side next year, and we’re excited to be visiting a country and playing a team that is special.”
Wallaroos head coach Paul Verrell said the event is the perfect preparation for Australia leading into the World Cup in France.
“Playing the Black Ferns is always challenging – last time we met in a pool match at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, New Zealand dominated and beat us 32-5,” said Verrell. “We will take a combination of experience and new talent to New Zealand in an attempt to turn around that result and we’re really looking forward to playing Canada for the first time on the international stage.”
“The pedigree of New Zealand rugby talent is well-known, and Canada will also provide plenty of challenges for us, as they participate in annual Tests against England and France, so will bring plenty of international experience to New Zealand.
“We finished third in the last World Cup, so we’re looking to improve that position next year and the International Series will be a great opportunity for us to assess form and see what areas of our game we need to focus on to come home with the World Cup next August.”
The Test matches will all be hosted by Bay of Plenty Rugby Union across Rotorua, Tauranga and Whakatane in June.
Dates and venues for fixtures will be confirmed later this year.