THE WOMEN’S Six Nations will now take place in April in a new and condensed format, it has been announced. 

With the men's tournament due to start this weekend, with Wales hosting Ireland on Sunday, the plans for the women's and the under 20s tournaments have now been confirmed. 

The Women’s Six Nations will be similar to the Autumn Nations Cup in format, with two pools of three and a Grand Final weekend. 

Wales Women have been placed in Pool A with France and Ireland, travelling to France on the weekend of April 3 before hosting Ireland on the weekend of April 10.

Every nation will then play a play-off match on the weekend of April 24 against the same ranked team from the other pool – so each of the first place teams will play each other, carrying down the pools.

The detailed fixture dates, venues and kick off times will be announced in due course.

Wales Women head coach Warren Abrahams said he was looking forward to his side testing themselves against two top sides in Pool A.

“We’re really grateful to the work everyone has done to get us to this position and have some competitive fixtures to look forward to,”he said. 

“We’ve all overcome different challenges to get here and the uncertainty has been the toughest part so this news is pretty exciting. 

“France and Ireland are great fixtures to work towards and will provide an opportunity to measure ourselves with the Rugby World Cup coming up in September. 

“It’s very welcome news for women’s rugby in the northern hemisphere.” 

The Under 20s Six Nations will now take place across June and July in the same format as planned, but over a condensed three week period.

The World Rugby U20 Championship has been cancelled for 2021 as a result of this move. 

Wales Under 20 head coach Gareth Williams said: “It's great to learn the rearranged dates for our Six Nations campaign.

“The disruption over the last 12 months is well documented, therefore having these fixtures to look forward to as a development tool for us is exciting and critical. 

“We are now able to adapt our key work with developing players in partnership with the regions, and the summer will give an invaluable period of competition to test that development.”

Ben Morel, chief executive of Six Nations Rugby said: “We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight.

“A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window due to World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams.

“Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed that April would be the best window in which to stage the championship. 

“The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career.”