A new dawn begins for women’s rugby this week as WXV gets underway. 

The new three-level annual global competition from World Rugby will give the world’s leading sides regular competition as part of a restructure of the global calendar. 

It is aimed at revolutionising the women’s international landscape with a pathway for regular Test matches for all unions ahead of the 2025 World Cup that will be held in England. 

While rugby fans will have to wait another week for the start of WXV 1, the top tier hosted by reigning world champions New Zealand and featuring TikTok Women’s Six Nations champions England, Levels 2 and 3 get underway this Friday. 

WXV 2 will be hosted by South Africa, with the Springbok Women joined by European duo Scotland and Italy, as well as USA, Samoa and Japan. 

Meanwhile, WXV3 is taking place in Dubai, with two more European nations involved, Ireland and Spain, along with Kazakhstan, Colombia, Kenya and Fiji. 

As well as the opportunity for regular Test rugby, there will be added jeopardy with promotion and relegation between Tiers 2 and 3, with the winners of the latter replacing the last-placed side in the former next year. 

It all kicks off in Stellenbosch in South Africa when Italy take on Japan – the two sides having met at the 2021 Rugby World Cup where the Azzurre sealed victory with a late try to secure their passage through to the last eight for the first time. 

Later in the day, Scotland will look to build on their fourth-place finish in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations when they take on hosts South Africa, with their skipper Rachel Malcolm only too aware of what a big moment this is for the women’s game. 

“I think it’s incredibly important,” Malcolm said. “It’s probably the biggest step forward in the women’s game to get more exposure to high-level rugby and to get women’s rugby out there and inspire little girls and let them know that there’s opportunities like this out there is really important for us. 

“We don’t play teams like South Africa very often so it’s a massive opportunity for us to play them, and to play USA and Japan, which are teams not in the Women’s Six Nations. [It] will be a completely different challenge for us, and it will help us push on as a team as a result.” 

The last two teams in WXV 2, USA and Samoa, will close out the opening round of action on Saturday. 

Over in Dubai, the opening fixture will see Fiji take on Colombia, a first-ever meeting for the sides.  

For Colombia captain Camila Lopera, there is no question that this marks a new page in the history of the sport in her country and beyond.  

She said: “It's a great honour for us to participate in this tournament and at this level. I think we are writing new history for Colombian rugby here. 

“I don't want this to be the first and last time that we are on this stage. I want to make sure that we play well and that we return to these kinds of tournaments more and more in the future.” 

Later on, a new-look Ireland under incoming head coach Scott Bemand, take on Kazakhstan before Kenya face Spain on Saturday. 

The sides will each play three games, with WXV 1, the top tier of the competition, kicking off next weekend. 

The first round of the top level  includes a tantalising rematch of the dramatic World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and France, which the Black Ferns edged 25-24, with England taking on Australia and Wales facing Canada. 

Two years out from what should be a groundbreaking World Cup in England, the launch of WXV has the opportunity to be a landmark moment for women’s rugby.