Sarah Hunter: WXV the right thing to do for women's rugby

Hunter retired as England's most capped player with 148 appearances
Hunter retired as England's most capped player with 148 appearances

New women’s rugby global tournament WXV is ‘the right thing’ to do to improve competitiveness, says former England captain Sarah Hunter, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

Hunter, who was last week announced as transition coach for the Red Roses, backed the new tournament that will see 18 teams play across three tiers every year.

In October, England will head to New Zealand to play in the top tier WXV1 which will see two pools of three teams including France and Wales, and three teams from New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada.

Scotland will play in WXV2 which is to take place in South Africa while the hosts for WXV3, which will feature Ireland, are yet to be announced with the majority of teams not confirmed for the third tier.

“I think it's absolutely the right thing to be doing,” Hunter, an ambassador for WXV sponsor Gallagher said.

“Having a global competition that you have to qualify to get into and then leads into qualification for teams into the World Cup.

“It just allows teams to have more regular competitive games at the highest level.

“I think having the tiered system as well allows the best teams in the world to be playing against each other, to be pushing each other, whilst giving other teams the most appropriate competition level to develop and improve and to push themselves.

“It is a really exciting concept to know that every year you're going to be playing in one of the toughest competitions there is.”

Cape Town will play host to WXV2 which begins on the weekend of 14 October, at the same time as WXV3, with WXV1 kicking off a week later and travelling around New Zealand.

The final day of WXV1 will take place on 4 November after the conclusion to the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France which will run concurrently to the majority of the tournament.

Hunter had one eye on her new role which will see her work across the England women pathway and senior team as she believes the chance to play in high-profile competitive games will also help preparations for a home Rugby World Cup in 2025.

She added: “It’s invaluable, if you go across the other side of the world to New Zealand or where the competition is going to take you.

“It becomes part of being able to cope in high-pressure situations and in big tournaments, such as the World Cup.

“You don't want World Cups to be the first time that you play opposite teams and play in the big matches, you want to experience that beforehand.”