IRB Women's Series has potential to grow
The IRB Women’s Sevens World Series is one of the most significant advances in the global suite of Rugby tournaments and a huge step forward for the women’s Game, according to IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan.
Speaking ahead of the Series opener in Dubai this week, Egan said it was an exciting time to be involved in Women’s Rugby.
“It’s huge. The establishment of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series is one of the most exciting developments in our competitions programme for a while,” said Egan.
"In a number of countries, the Women's Sevens programmes are now increasing dramatically in terms of commitment, finance and resources and the bottom line is that they deserve a World Series and this is the start of the process now to make sure that we have a highly competitive Olympic Games in 2016.”
Brazil, China, France, Russia, Spain and South Africa will join core teams Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, New Zealand and USA at the historic first event, which will run parallel to the men’s tournament at 7he Sevens ground in Dubai.
The Women’s Sevens World Series will then split off from the men’s Series as it forges its own following and identity, with later rounds taking place in USA (Houston), China (Guangzhou) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam). And the event is likely to grow further in years to come.
"I think the Unions are ready to compete and we have four very good venues, also strategically important markets in terms of China and the USA, and Amsterdam now gives us an event on mainland Europe, which is a very positive development,” said Egan.
"So I think we now have a very high calibre of events set out for both our men's and women's Sevens players and the women's has definitely seen a significant up-lift in performance and it's a very exciting time to be playing the sport.
“We're starting with four tournaments and we want to take a step-by-step approach, see how these go and I'm confident they will be successful. Ideally we want to expand the Women’s Sevens World Series. There are a lot more countries than the four (Dubai, USA, China, Netherlands) who are interested in hosting a women's event and that is a positive development in itself.
Egan: "This is going to grow"
“We'd like to go to six or eight tournaments over time, but we do have to appreciate that to participate in these events costs the Unions money, so we think four is a sensible number to start with, but there's no question: this is going to grow, and I think it's probably the most exciting thing that's happening in the world Game at the moment.
“The IRB Women’s Sevens World Series means so much for teams, access to high level competition is crucial for them and being recognised on the world stage is particularly exciting.”
IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty added: “Increasing competition and the introduction of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series are key strategies in the IRB Women's Rugby Plan.”
“Unions involved have also completed the IRB Accelerated High Performance Women's Rugby Programme as part of the IRB commitment to support teams by strengthening High Performance structures within their Unions. The objective of this programme was the development and implementation of an effective High Performance Plan that will drive the competitiveness and performance pathway of Women's Rugby.”
“We are now focused on supporting implementation of the plans produced, ensuring standard and quality continues to increase as the number of competitions grow, ultimately increasing the overall competitiveness of Women’s Rugby as we embark on an exciting period of competitions that includes RWC Sevens 2013, Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 and, of course, the Olympic Games 2016.”
“More than one million women and girls are now playing Rugby in 112 countries globally. The Women’s Sevens World Series will increase the profile and exposure of women in the Game. This visibility will inspire more women and girls to take up the sport and help us build on the level of development already achieved and add momentum to the growth of the sport.”
IRB Women’s Sevens World Series
Round 1 – UAE: Dubai, November 30 – December 1, 2012 – 7he Sevens Stadium
Round 2 – USA: Houston, Texas, 1-2 February, 2013 - BBVA Compass Stadium
Round 3 – China: Guangzhou, 30-31 March 2013 - Guangzhou University Town Stadium
Round 4 – Netherlands: Amsterdam, 17-18 May 2013 - NRCA Stadium