The Buildcorp Wallaroos will play three Test matches in New Zealand this June in a four-nation series that includes the reigning Women’s Rugby World Cup champions, England, arch rivals New Zealand and women’s rugby powerhouse, Canada.
Australia will play matches in Wellington, Christchurch, and Rotorua, with the second Test against the Black Ferns to be the first time the Trans-Tasman rivals have played in New Zealand’s South Island since 1997.
The three Test matches will provide extra quality preparation heading into the Women’s Rugby World Cup in August where Australia has been placed in Pool C with hosts Ireland, France and Japan.
ARU General Manager High Performance, Ben Whitaker said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Buildcorp Wallaroos to play against some of the best women’s rugby sides in the world.
“When the Wallaroos played the Black Ferns last year, there were thirteen Australian debutants who got their first taste of international rugby and we saw how much that experience helped the squad improve from Test to Test.
“Playing more Tests is a key aspect of our Women’s XVs strategy. We welcome the opportunity and challenge to play in New Zealand as part of our preparation plan for the World Cup later in the year.”
Australia played New Zealand twice in 2016 (the first time they’d played together since 2014), with the second Test showing a significantly improved performance by the Australians, valiantly falling 29-3 compared to 67-3 in the first Test.
All three opposing nations loom as fierce competitors for the Wallaroos this June. England won the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, 21-9, in a gripping Final against the Canadians, while New Zealand has won every Women’s Rugby World Cup prior to 2014.
Australia’s best performance in a Women’s Rugby World Cup came in 2010 when they placed third.
According to the World Rugby Women’s Rankings, New Zealand is ranked number one with England and Canada rounding out the top three respectively. Australia is currently ranked sixth.
International Women’s Rugby Series
Friday, 9 June – Wellington
Black Ferns v Canada, Westpac Stadium (followed by Hurricanes v Chiefs)
Australia v England, Porirua Park
Tuesday, 13 June – Christchurch
Black Ferns v Australia, Rugby Park
Canada v England, Rugby Park
Saturday, 17 June – Rotorua
Black Ferns v England, Rotorua International Stadium (followed by Maori All Blacks v British and Irish Lions)
Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park