World Rugby announced last week that Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, in Aotearoa will take place between 8 October and 12 November next year. The tournament window increases from 35 to 43 days, with increased rest periods in between matches.
Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore said they are working towards up to six Test matches in the later part of this year, as they ramp up preparations for the pinnacle event.
“Some of the Tests will be against Tier 1 nations and we are just waiting on those things to be finalised, but we are confident they will come to fruition.
“They are critical. We have a real need this year to be playing Test matches, some of which need to be against Tier 1 nations. It’s critical as we work towards the World Cup next year.”
Moore said Test matches for next year are also being worked on, on the back of an elite competition which is set to be played in the first quarter of 2022.
The Black Ferns wider squad have been linking up for training camps since January in three-to-four-week cycles. It’s been encouraging for coaching staff to see players come into training in good nick and even hitting personal bests.
In the most recent camp in Tauranga, the Black Ferns played internal games, which Moore said was really insightful.
“We got to elevate some of the things we’ve been working on, and the quality of the game was of a high standard and almost played at a Test match intensity.
“We were able to talk about what a Test might look like and having that to look forward to. So, we are now training to play, no longer just training to train and there was a noticeable difference in energy.”
Internal games have been made possible due to the bigger numbers in camp. For Moore it’s been about integrating players in and having the next tier who hope to be Black Ferns one day.
“We are trying to ensure that by the time they become a selected Test player, they know what it takes. How our culture works, how our environment works and the expectation around ensuring they know the game knowledge and how reviews work.”
The Farah Palmer Cup draw was announced today (NZT) and Black Ferns coaches expect the product to be at a very high level this year.
The premier domestic competition, which kicks off on the 17th of July, sees the return of the Premiership-Championship format.
Moore has been really encouraged by the depth of talent they’ve got to work with, with 17 and 18 year-old’s coming off a Farah Palmer Cup campaign last year.
“They will come into fruition in a few years. They have made excellent accounts of themselves and to hear them speak about what they learnt is rewarding.”
A Black Ferns Test schedule is expected to be announced next month.