Rugby: Just one confirmed 2023 home test for Black Ferns despite World Cup popularity

The world champion Black Ferns only have one home test match scheduled for 2023, with NZ Rugby confirming the international fixtures for the upcoming season.

Last year, women's rugby garnered unprecedented waves of support, as the New Zealand defeated England to claim the Rugby World Cup for the sixth time.

NZ Rugby's figures predict a rise of 40 percent in women's rugby participation this year, with 35,000 players expected at club and school level, but, that growth has not been reflected in the international calendar.

The Black Ferns celebrate winning the Rugby World Cup.
The Black Ferns celebrate winning the Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

A solitary test against Australia in September is the only confirmed chance for fans to get behind the world champions.

"We are delighted to have an exciting test schedule ahead of us," said new Black Ferns coach Allan Bunting.

"To consistently be involved in fixtures both in New Zealand and abroad enables us to be able to build depth and challenge us as a team, while allowing our fans to continue on this journey with us." 

So far, the Black Ferns have five confirmed test matches, with three against Australia, and one each against USA and Canada.

In June, they will take part in the Pacific Four series, facing off against Australia in Australia, and the USA and Canada in Canada.

Meanwhile, the Black Ferns will defend the O'Reilly Cup against Australia, with a test on either side of the Tasman. The two sides will meet in Brisbane on June 29 and at a to-be-determined NZ venue on September 30.

NZ Rugby also hopes to host the newly formed WXV competition. 

'WXV' is a new concept that will see the top six teams in the world compete in an annual tournament, beginning this year, as part of a plan to grow the women's game and add more meaningful matches to the calendar.

"It would be great for New Zealand, as a country, to continue to generate the excitement they showed for women's rugby during the Rugby World Cup," added  Bunting. 

"We would like to see Aotearoa New Zealand backing the Black Ferns when WXV kicks-off."

Host locations for the WXV competition will be announced next month.