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Australian Rugby Union today announced the 2014 playing schedule for Australia’s elite women, with the Wallaroos set to play reigning Women’s Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand and Canada in the inaugural International Series in New Zealand in May and June next year.
Wallaroos Head Coach Paul Verrell said the event is the perfect preparation for Australia leading into next year’s IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France in August.
“Playing the Black Ferns is always challenging – last time we met in a pool match at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, New Zealand dominated and beat us 32-5,” said Mr Verrell.
“We will take a combination of experience and new talent to New Zealand in an attempt to turn around that result and we’re really looking forward to playing Canada for the first time on the international stage.
“The pedigree of New Zealand Rugby talent is well-known, and Canada will also provide plenty of challenges for us, as they participate in annual Tests against England and France, so will bring plenty of international experience to New Zealand.
“We finished third in the last Rugby World Cup, so we’re looking to improve that position next year and the International Series will be a great opportunity for us to assess form and see what areas of our game we need to focus on to come home with the World Cup next August.”
An initial squad of 36 will be announced next week to begin a national preparation program in November. The squad will also attend the first training camp to be held at the Australian Institute of Sport in February 2014.
The preparation program will continue through to the tour of New Zealand in May before competing at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris 1-17 August 2014.
Next week’s national team selection follows last month’s National Women’s Championships in Sydney, which saw Sydney dominate the tournament and beat Queensland 22-3 in the final.
The IRB has announced its match officials list for the second stage of the 2014 IRB Junior World Championships overnight, with two Australians appointed to referee two of the games in New Zealand on Sunday.