World Rugby have hinted at a potential women's Rugby Championship-style competition in the coming future, with General Manager of Women's Rugby Katie Sadleir telling media in Sydney an international competition could be around the corner.
The Wallaroos and Black Ferns have struggled in the past to play regular Test fixtures, with the Australian side playing on home soil for the first time in 10 years when they ran out against New Zealand ahead of the Bledisloe Test in Sydney in August. The Northern Hemisphere meanwhile have their annual Six Nations tournament for women.
Due to geographic challenges, sending Australian and New Zealand teams to the Northern Hemisphere outside of World Cup years has proved difficult, forcing World Rugby to focus on an annual Southern Hemisphere competition.
"We had a whole day's workshop looking at the international competition calendar," Sadlier said. "We're talking about boosting what actually happens at a regional level.
"We've got six regions but we're also looking at the potential for cross-regional competitions and I know that New Zealand has been having conversations with Australia.
"They've been having conversations with other teams in the Northern Hemisphere to see what is possible and World Rugby is keen to support those initiatives."
It's unlikely a Southern Hemisphere competition would completely mimic the current men's Rugby Championship, with South Africa and Argentina currently struggling to make a presence in the Women's XVs game. However, World Rugby have delved into their reserve funding as they look to grow the women's game around the world.
"There has been no competition (in the Southern Hemisphere) so we're picking up the international competition calendar and sitting down with the top unions and saying, 'What makes sense here?'
"It's really hard when you're in the other side of the big Six Nations up there to get those opportunities so we are really seriously looking at what is possible.
"World Rugby has released money from its reserves to look at putting in place new competitions and we are certainly working with unions around the world to make sure that happens."
Rugby Australia are currently hosting World Rugby as they have their quarterly meeting in Sydney which has given officials a chance to visit potential 2021 Women's World Cup venues. Sadleir was impressed by both Australia's and New Zealand's bid, but said her key focus was on the impact the tournament would have on the woman's game.
"I'm particularly interested in the impact beyond and I think the things that both of the bids are trying to do are really good in terms of developing rugby within the union but also looking at the wider Asia-Pacific region, so fantastic."