The New Zealand Rugby (NZR) governing body has confirmed Wellington, Dunedin, and Auckland will host match weekends for WXV 1, the top-tier competition of World Rugby’s new global women’s rugby union teams series, later this year.

WXV 1 will kick off at Wellington’s Sky Stadium (October 20 and 21), before heading to Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium Mt Smart (October 27 and 28) and ending in Auckland’s Go Media Stadium (November 3 and 4).

Each venue will host a standalone Friday night test, followed by a Saturday doubleheader.

England, France, and Wales are already confirmed as three of the WXV 1’s six teams, with the remaining three to be determined by the 2023 edition of the World Rugby Pacific Four Series, which is being contested by New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States from June 29.

NZR board chair Farah Palmer said: “Fans across the world are going to be watching WXV 1 and Aotearoa and it’s an absolute privilege to have talented wāhine from the top six teams in the world playing across our country. Last year’s Rugby World Cup gave New Zealanders a taste of how thrilling and exciting the women’s game is, and now we have the chance to showcase these world-class athletes across our country.

“We hope to see fans re-ignite the passion they showed for rugby and women’s sport during the Rugby World Cup and to re-create the unique and exciting atmosphere that captured the imagination of the rugby world.”

World Rugby’s chief of women’s rugby Sally Horrox added: “We are thrilled to head to Auckland, Dunedin, and Wellington for WXV 1 and to Cape Town in South Africa for WXV 2 as we push forward with our planning for the inaugural tournament alongside our hosts, New Zealand Rugby and South Africa Rugby. 

“In New Zealand, from the get-go, we were committed to ensuring the tournament traveled to both the North and South Islands, showcasing some of the top teams in the world across the country and we can’t wait to see the players and the fans back watching international rugby this October.”

New Zealand was first announced as the host of the first WXV 1 in May when World Rugby confirmed the inaugural edition of its 18-team, three-team WXV competition would take place in October and November.

The governing body also revealed Cape Town, South Africa would host the WXV 2 on the weekends of October 14, 21, and 28. Scotland is the only team confirmed for the second tier so far, with another from Europe to be determined by a playoff between Italy and Spain, with the fourth-placed team from the Pacific Four Series and one team each from Oceania, Asia, and Africa also to feature.

The dates and host location for the final tier, WXV 3, have yet to be announced. Ireland is confirmed to compete, with the loser of the Italy versus Spain playoff to join as the final European participant and one team each from Asia, Oceania, Africa, and South America to be added.

The final slots will be allocated via regional qualifiers beginning this month.

World Rugby said WXV, first unveiled in 2021, will double the annual international fixtures for most competing teams. In this way, it will help to achieve the governing body’s aim for the competition of “increasing the competitiveness, reach, and impact of elite women’s rugby.”

The new competition will be the main element of a new pathway from regional events to the Rugby World Cup, with World Rugby putting the women’s game at the center of its strategy to grow rugby union as a whole.

It will support the Accelerate program that World Rugby launched in April to "supercharge the development of women’s rugby on and off the field."

Payments giant Mastercard and IT services firm Capgemini have been revealed as partners for WXV alongside the already-announced insurer Gallagher.