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What to watch in women’s rugby: Pacific Four Series, PWR and Sevens Challenger

By Martyn Thomas
OTTAWA, CANADA - JULY 8: Layne Morgan of the Australia Wallaroos breaks a tackle against U.S in the World Rugby Pacific Four Series at TD Place Stadium on July 8, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Andrea Cardin - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The stakes could not be higher this weekend as teams jostle for position and qualification races are run from Krakow to Melbourne.

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AAMI Park hosts the opening match of a packed schedule as Australia take on USA in what is effectively a Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 and WXV 1 2024 play-off.

Despite defeat last time out, the Wallaroos can still finish the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2024 as champions but depending on their result against the Women’s Eagles, the Black Ferns’ encounter with Canada on Sunday could become a title decider.

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Later on Sunday, the Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) title plot will take another pivotal twist when Exeter Chiefs welcome Saracens to Sandy Park.

And by the end of the weekend, we will know the identity of the four women’s World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 teams who will travel to Madrid in a fortnight to compete for a place on HSBC SVNS 2025.

Fortunately, all that action and more is available to stream live and for free on RugbyPass TV.

England 2025 ticket on the line

It is a huge weekend in the Pacific Four Series with Women’s RWC 2025 and WXV 1 qualification on the line and the overall title up for grabs.

The action kicks off at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday, where hosts Australia know they can secure their ticket to both England 2025 and the top level of WXV with victory.

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Fixture
Pacific Four Series
Australia Women's
25 - 32
Full-time
USA Women's
All Stats and Data

Given it is USA’s third and final match of the tournament, the Women’s Eagles must win – or draw while at least matching the Wallaroos’ haul of bonus points – to prolong their own qualification hopes until next weekend’s denouement in North Harbour.

History is on the side of the Women’s Eagles, who lead the head-to-head five wins to two and possess local knowledge in the shape of head coach Sione Fukofuka.

However, they have not won a Pacific Four Series match since beating Australia 16-14 two years ago and lost 58-17 in the corresponding fixture in Ottawa last year.

Should the Wallaroos repeat that success on Friday then it would keep them in contention for the overall title and also confirm New Zealand’s place in WXV 1 in Canada this September and October.

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The Black Ferns can finish the weekend as Pacific Four Series champions for a third year in a row if Australia lose to USA – or beat them without a bonus point – and they pick up all five points against Canada.

Fixture
Pacific Four Series
New Zealand Women's
19 - 22
Full-time
Canada Women's
All Stats and Data

Canada currently lead the standings and will win the title if they beat the Black Ferns for the first time, or earn a draw while picking up one match point more than their hosts in Christchurch.

All the action is available to stream for free via RugbyPass TV except where there is a local broadcast deal in place (Canada, New Zealand and USA).

Friday, 17 May

07:55 BST (GMT+1) – Australia v USA, AAMI Park – WATCH LIVE

Sunday, 19 May

05:35 BST (GMT+1) – New Zealand v Canada, Apollo Projects Stadium – WATCH LIVE

Home semi-final in reach for Sarries

Saracens head to Sandy Park to take on Exeter Chiefs this Sunday as the race for a home semi-final in the PWR play-offs heats up.

Only three points separate second-placed Saracens from Exeter in third ahead of kick-off. Crucially, though, the visitors have a game in hand, meaning Susie Appleby’s Chiefs must win to take the fight for a top-two finish to the final weekend of the regular season.

Both teams returned to action with comprehensive victories last weekend. Cliodhna Moloney scored two tries while fly-half Robyn Wilkins ended the match with 15 points as Exeter beat Trailfinders Women 40-10 in Ealing.

Saracens, meanwhile – buoyed by their Allianz Cup triumph last month – racked up a 54-21 victory against Sale Sharks at StoneX Stadium, Jess Breach scoring two of her side’s eight tries.

Sunday’s visitors have also won both of the teams’ two league and cup encounters this season, including a 36-29 victory in the Allianz Cup semi-finals, but will not take anything for granted as they make the long trip from London to Devon.

Exeter beat Saracens twice at Sandy Park last season, coming from 14-0 down at half-time to win a tight Premier 15s semi-final 24-21 in front of their own fans.

Appleby’s side will hope to give the Sandy Park faithful more reason to cheer this Sunday.

All the action is available to stream for free via RugbyPass TV except where there is a local broadcast deal in place (UK, Ireland, Canada and USA).

Sunday, 19 May

15:00 BST (GMT+1) – Exeter Chiefs v Saracens, Sandy Park – WATCH HERE

Related

Sevens Challenger reaches conclusion

At least half of the 12 women’s World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger teams arrived in Krakow this week with hopes of qualifying for the HSBC SVNS Play-off tournament in Madrid.

By the end of this weekend’s tournament at Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium we will know the identity of the four teams who will compete against the bottom four from HSBC SVNS 2024 for a place on next year’s series.

Following back-to-back victories in the opening two tournaments of the 2024 Sevens Challenger, China begin this weekend’s final tournament on top of the standings with a perfect 40 points.

Lu Zhuan’s side will book their ticket to Madrid if they reach the quarter-finals in Krakow, while second-placed Argentina (34 points) will be guaranteed a place in the Play-off tournament if they make the last four.

The race for the top four in the overall standings is far from settled though, with Belgium and Uganda separated in third and fourth by points difference alone, and Kenya only four points further back.

Poland are six points adrift of fourth place ahead of the final tournament but know that a strong performance on home soil could catapult them up the standings.

The hosts have been drawn in Pool C alongside Belgium and Kenya, as well as 12th-place Mexico, providing them with an opportunity to make inroads. The day one encounter between Belgium and Kenya will also be fascinating.

Saturday, 18 – Sunday, 19 May

09:56 BST (GMT+1) – Day one, Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium – WATCH HERE

09:56 BST (GMT+1) – Day two, Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium – WATCH HERE

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.

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J
Jon 3 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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