Thu, Dec 14, 2023, 5:57 AM
Nathan Williamson, RA Media

The Super Rugby W Australian sides are set to welcome a host of international sides as part of a formalised pre-season.

Japanese powerhouse Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix will head to Australia, taking on the Western Force as part of a Super Rugby Pacific double-header on February 23.

The two sides signed a formal partnership at the start of December, which will see them also exchange players during the agreement.

The Phoenix, who were Japanese Sevens and 15s champions in 2022, will face the Force again on Tuesday 27 February before heading to Sydney to take on NSW Waratahs at Concord Oval on Saturday 2 March.

"Another long-held dream has come true. I believe that in order for women's rugby to become a more attractive sport, it was necessary not only to play within Japan, but also to play overseas," Phoenix General Manager and former Japan international Yohei Shinomiya said "During the Australia tour, we would like to convey the charm of Japanese culture and the Tokyo Sankyu Phoenix through women's rugby.

"I want to help many players join Phoenix and spread their wings around the world, just like I once played overseas."

Meanwhile a Pasifika team comprised of the best women's players in Samoa and Tonga will be based on the Gold Coast for a three-match tour.

They will start their tour against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on 24 February, before tackling ACT Brumbies and the Waratahs at Bond University on 2 March and 9 March.

The Brumbies will also take on the Hong Kong China national side at Viking Park on 3 February.

"We are delighted that three international teams from the Asia-Pacific region will be participating in pre-season tours prior to the 2024 Super Rugby Women's season," RA GM of Women's Rugby Jilly Collins said.

"These high quality matches will provide invaluable preparation and development opportunities for all participating teams.

"With Australia gearing up to host the 2029 Women's Rugby World Cup, it's great to play our part in the continued growth of the women's game across the region."