Source: NZ Rugby, Rachael Whareaitu

New Zealand Plans

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A European Tour?

Joseph Pearson of stuff.co.nz points to a possible Black Ferns tour of Europe to coincide with the second running of WXV and as a warm-up before the next World Cup in England in late 2025.

He suggests as many as five tests could be played, so the tour would take on different dimensions from 2021 where it was simply England twice, then France twice. When Pearson mentions Italy and Wales as possible opponents (Ireland and Scotland might be equally valid), we can sense the radical thinking going on at NZR Towers.

Any match-ups apart from France and England would benefit those other 6 Nations sides more than the Ferns, but the more the merrier. Among them, only Ireland has ever beaten New Zealand, ten years ago, an event still warm in the hearts of all Irish rugby folk. You get a measure of the challenge facing these possible opponents when you recall Wales’ defeat 70-7 in Dunedin late last year.

None of them enjoy many outward tours, but a meeting with the world champions at home would be a fine alternative.

The Ferns’ Programme

Such a tour would be the culmination of a crowded schedule, just what the BFs have been craving.

First comes the Super Aupiki, newly extended in number of matches, squad sizes and pay. The final takes place on 13 April, then there comes a break of a month before the Pacific-Four series. That gives their new coach Allan Bunting and his staff the chance to sift their choices for this major tour.

The Pac-4 means more familiar opponents (Australia, Canada and USA) through the (southern hemisphere) autumn. The dates: April 27 to May 19.

These fixtures used to be one-way traffic, but now they look more challenging for the Kiwis after their highly disappointing show in the first WXV last year. It was an unusual set-back for Bunting, but it gave him a better appreciation of the work needed to reinstall the Ferns as the number one power in the world – to which they were once all too accustomed. A reminder of some results: France 20 Canada 29; France 20 Australia 29! And more directly: New Zealand 18 France 19; New Zealand 12 England 33.

Memo: all these tour details remain unconfirmed, but the mere thought is enough to get the juices running. The RFU too is planning on the largest scale, so you may need to book promptly to get a seat in a crowd of 60,000+ at Twickenham.

For the moment, all we can do is sit back and hope.

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