The Black Ferns aren’t worried about being overshadowed by the All Blacks when they kick off their WXV campaign in the last week of the men’s Rugby World Cup.
Black Ferns director of rugby Allan Bunting told media on Monday he’s confident his side will capture the nation’s attention once again, despite their opening match on October 21 being scheduled the same weekend as a potential All Blacks quarter-final.
The world champion Kiwi women’s side will face three of the teams they beat on the way to winning their home World Cup at the inaugural WXV tier 1 tournament.
The Black Ferns will play France during a blockbuster opening weekend, before facing Wales and England the following two weekends.
And even though they’ll have support playing on home soil across Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, the Black Ferns will have to contend with the men’s Rugby World Cup knockout stage being scheduled in France at the same time.
Bunting says, however, World Rugby is working hard to make sure the calendar doesn’t have any major clashes. He also feels like the timing could also work in their favour.
“What an exciting time having all that rugby on at once. And then once we get to our last game against England, the World Cup will be finished so everyone can focus on it.
“I just think it’s pretty cool that we’ve got so much rugby.”
Equally, Bunting doesn’t want to take anything away from the All Blacks: “I’m excited about our men and where they are and their journey they’re on. And I’m excited about our ladies and the opportunities that are in front of us.”
Bunting knows his side have an exceptional opportunity to build off the momentum of hosting three major women’s World Cups in New Zealand (cricket, rugby and football) in the last 18 months.
“It’s massively exciting to almost have a little mini World Cup here again.
“The growth of women’s rugby is an opportunity for us. We’ve got a few new ladies in that get to come in and experience the best in the world at the moment.”
Bunting has been blown away by the number of people that got behind last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup and the Fifa Women’s World Cup currently on.
“It’s pretty special in women’s sports at the moment,” he said. “What I’ve sort of experienced myself is there’s a real desire for our next rugby players coming through.
“For me, when I was younger and I watched the All Blacks, you could see them and you could put yourself there.”
Bunting said young girls who can see it first-hand can better dream it and believe it’s possible. He said he can feel an evolution coming through schools and domestic competitions after the impact of the home Rugby World Cup.
“We get to do that again - our ladies go and create something special at the end of this year, it’s gonna keep evolving,” said Bunting.
WXV 1 match schedule
England v Australia: Sky Stadium, Wellington, Friday 20 October, 7pm
Canada v Wales: Sky Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 21 October, 4pm
France v Black Ferns: Sky Stadium, Wellington, Saturday October 21, 7pm
England v Canada: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Friday October 27, 7pm
Black Ferns v Wales: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday October 28, 4pm
France v Australia: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday October 28, 7pm
Australia v Wales: Go Media Stadium, Mt Smart, Auckland, Friday November 3, 7pm
France v Canada: Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, Auckland, Saturday November 4, 4pm
Black Ferns v England: Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, Auckland, Saturday November 4, 7pm