England women’s team will face the world champions New Zealand twice this autumn as part of their preparation for the rescheduled 2022 World Cup.
Simon Middleton’s team will take on the Black Ferns on the final weekend of October (29-31) and then again at the start of November (5-7). The matches will mark the first back‑to‑back Tests against the New Zealanders since 2013.
England, who are the No 1 ranked team in the world, will round off the autumn with Tests against Canada (12-14 November) and the United States (19-21 November). Exact match dates, kick-off times and venues are still to be confirmed but Middleton is excited.
“Any series of games where you get to pit yourselves against the top teams in the world is going to be great,” the head coach said.
“It goes without saying that this series provides the perfect opportunity for individuals to display their World Cup credentials and stake an early claim for a place in what will be the most competitive squad selection we will have made since the 2017 World Cup.”
New Zealand defeated England 41-32 in the final of that last World Cup in 2017. It marked their fifth World Cup victory of the past six editions. The other final was won by England, who defeated Canada in the 2014 final.
Canada, who are third in World Rugby’s rankings, last faced the Red Roses in England at Doncaster Knights’ Castle Park in a 27-19 win for the hosts in 2018.
Middleton said: “We haven’t played any of these teams since the Super Series in 2019 and I thought the standard of rugby and the closeness of the games in that competition showed just how hugely competitive this series is likely to be.
“No team won all four games in that Super Series, so to now be able to play against three of the top six ranked teams in the world is something to look forward to and a great opportunity.
“We haven’t played New Zealand in back-to-back matches since 2013. These games are always really intriguing, you have to react to what happened in the first, there’s a little bit of countering what one team does, it’s a bit of a chess game so that’ll be brilliant.”