WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP)New Zealand will host the U.S., Canada and Australia in the Pacific Four series in June as part of preparations for the women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off in October.

New Zealand will play Australia and the U.S. will take on Canada on June 6, with other tests scheduled for June 12 and 18.

The Black Ferns will be playing their first tests on home soil in New Zealand since 2019.

”The Pacific Four gives New Zealanders the opportunity to get excited about women’s rugby in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and to get behind their team in what is a huge year for the women’s game,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said in a statement Tuesday.

The women’s Rugby World Cup was postponed last year because of travel restrictions in place in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said preparations were well on track for the world tournament.

”We look forward to what will be two great showcases of the women’s game in the country,” Gilpin said.

The New Zealand women’s team has won five of the last six Rugby World Cup titles.

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