A significant landmark will be reached when the New Zealand Black Ferns hosts England in the first of three Tests at Eden Park on Saturday, July 13.
The match in the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final venue between the 2010 world champions and the runners up will be the 1,000th women’s Test match since the remarkable Women’s Rugby story began some 31 years ago when France defeated the Netherlands 4-0.
It will also be a celebration and reflection of how far one of the world’s fastest-growing team sports has come, on and off the field, showcasing Rugby and women’s sport to new audiences around the world.
Global participation is at an all-time high. There are now more than one million active female players around the world and Olympic Games inclusion has driven new participants in traditional and new countries to both Sevens and Fifteens.
It is fitting that the landmark should come in a seminal year for the Women’s Game, with 2013 seeing the completion of the inaugural IRB Women’s World Series and the crowning of New Zealand as Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens champions.
It has also seen the continued roll-out of the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan geared towards delivering a sustainable development and competition platform in the lead up to Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016.
Road to Rio
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset: “These are exciting times for Women’s Rugby and the IRB is committed to the ongoing development and growth of the sport worldwide in Fifteens and Sevens.”
“We are experiencing significant interest and participation in markets such as USA, Brazil, China, Netherlands and Colombia, while the Olympic opportunity has given us an unprecedented platform to showcase women’s team sport at its best.”
“We have certainly come a long way since that pioneering first Test 31 years ago.”
“I would like to express my thanks to all those who have played their part in writing the first chapter in the Women’s Rugby story and look ahead with great anticipation to exciting times ahead as we count down to Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 and Rio 2016.”
Black Ferns captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili welcomed the 1,000th Test match as an important milestone in women’s international Rugby.
“This is a fantastic achievement for the Women’s Game and for Rugby. We approach all our Test matches as important achievements, but to celebrate this milestone in our first Test match of 2013 and our opening match of the International Series against England, is truly special,” said Fa’amausili.
“The continuing growth of the Women’s Game around the world is encouraging, and I congratulate all those involved in developing the Game because this milestone celebrates their work.”
England head coach Gary Street added: "Given this special anniversary, I think it's fitting that the current top two sides in the world are playing in the 1,000th match at one of the world's greatest Rugby grounds.”
“This Series will be a fantastic opportunity for the public to see the strength of Women's Rugby at this level, and I'm sure it will be a titanic battle. It will also give both England and the Black Ferns the chance to see where we both are 12 months out from Women’s Rugby World Cup in France."
The 1,000th Test match will be shown live on SKY New Zealand and Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland.
Saturday, July 13: Black Ferns v England, Eden Park, Auckland, KO 17:05
Tuesday, July 16 : Black Ferns v England, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, KO 19:00
Saturday, July 20: Black Ferns v England, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, KO 14:35
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