Sport | Black Ferns

Super Rugby Aupiki extended to help Black Ferns test season

The Black Ferns need some high-level game time to recover from their loss against England and France despite their Rugby World Cup win.

The 2024 test calendar for the Black Ferns is to start with three home tests against the US, Canada, and Australia as they aim to defend their Pacific Four Series title.

Subsequently, they will venture to Australia for a potential O’Reilly Cup decider, which New Zealand has won since the competition began in 1994.

Details of Pacific Four Series host cities, venues, and kick-off times in New Zealand, the USA, and Australia are yet to be announced.

The Black Ferns are scheduled to engage in each of their three tests in front of home fans and the series kicks off against the US on Saturday, May 11.

The Black Ferns’ clash against Australia on Saturday, May 25, within the Pacific Four Series, will serve a dual purpose as the first of two matches determining the O’Reilly Cup.

The decisive return match against the Wallaroos, potentially determining the O’Reilly Cup, is slated for Sunday, July 14, in Australia.

World Rugby’s Pacific Four Series will also serve as the qualification for WXV, with the top three teams securing their spots in the 2024 edition of WXV1.

The teams that get into WXV1 will be the best three from the Women’s Six Nations in Europe and the top three from the cross-regional tournament with the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia in Oceania/Rugby Americas North (RAN).

This three-tiered global women’s tournament started in New Zealand last year and the host locations for WXV in 2024 are yet to be announced.

Black Ferns rugby director Allan Bunting said they had seen how competitive Australia and Canada were against the northern hemisphere teams during WXV1. “So it makes for an exciting series, alongside qualification for WXV1 once again.”

Super Rugby Aupiki would be a chance for the selected Black Ferns to get some extended quality play time as their competition has gone from three rounds in 2023 to six rounds this year before heading into finals.

It comes after the Black Ferns lost to France and England. The European teams play regularly against each other in their six-nations competition.

Bunting said he was excited to see if the energy from the extended Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season would carry on into the test season.

“There is a swift turnaround between wrapping up Sky Super Rugby Aupiki and Pacific Four Series kicking off, so it is up to our wāhine to make sure they are working hard now.

”We know our wāhine are eager to return to the field for Sky Super Rugby Aupiki, and we look forward to seeing the season unfold and shine the light on the next generation.”

World Rugby women’s competitions head Alison Hughes said the Pacific Four Series would provide teams with quality competition.

This highly anticipated tournament provides a quality high-performance competition for the four teams competing and with WXV and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 qualification up for grabs, it’s really all to play for.”

Pacific Four Series 2024 Schedule:

Round 1

USA v Canada – Saturday 27 April, USA

Round 2

Black Ferns v USA – Saturday 11 May, New Zealand

Australia v Canada – Saturday 11 May, Australia

Round 3

Australia v USA – Friday 17 May, Australia

Black Ferns v Canada – Sunday 19 May, New Zealand

Round 4

Black Ferns vs. Australia – Saturday 25 May, New Zealand (Doubles as the first O’Reilly Cup Test, presented by Ryman Healthcare)

O’Reilly Cup:

Australia vs. Black Ferns – Sunday 14 July, Australia