Women's Game set for Sevens Series Boost
Excitement was the predominant feeling today in Dubai as the finishing touches are put to preparations for the first ever IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
With 12 teams assembled to do battle on the dramatic stage of 7he Sevens ground on Friday and Saturday, the players and coaches can hardly contain their anticipation for what is an historic milestone in the ongoing evolution of the women’s Game.
Canada captain Jen Kish, who was one of the speakers at Dubai's official pre-tournament press conference, declared her team was raring to go.
“It’s so exciting for us to be here. We are pumped,” she said. “It’s great for women’s Rugby to have this Series and a huge step forward for our sport. From a Team Canada point of view we are happy to be back in Dubai looking forward to doing well here and then moving on to the other legs.”
While the men’s HSBC Sevens World Series is a well-established and much-loved fixture in the global Rugby calendar, it is now the turn of the women to join them. This season the Women's Series is set to take place in four global destinations, underscoring the IRB's commitment to the growth and development of women's Rugby around the world and is another significant step in the journey to Rugby’s reintroduction to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
In a ground-breaking move, the inaugural series for the world's top women's Sevens players will feature rounds in USA (Houston), China (Guangzhou) and Netherlands (Amsterdam) as well as Dubai. This season will then be concluded with the eagerly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, which takes place in Moscow at the end of June.
South Africa's captain Mandisa Williams was also upbeat about the tournament: “It’s a great opportunity for us to show the world that women’s Rugby Sevens is of a very high quality and is worthy of its own Series," she said.
"From our side, we are so grateful to be here. We feel privileged and proud to be granted this chance and it is something we intend to take with both hands.
“Women’s Rugby is improving in South Africa and we are ready to compete on the world stage. We are just excited now for the Dubai tournament and for the series to start.”
A legend of Rugby Sevens and long-time visitor to Dubai, New Zealand men's coach Gordon Tietjens, also threw his weight behind the women's developments, saying he believed the bar was being pushed higher and higher by the female players. The veteran coach's men's team trained alongside New Zealand's women prior to leaving for Dubai, and he believes the women's Game is now ready to take its place at the highest level.
“Being an Olympic sport was a huge, huge step forward for women’s Rugby. There has been a lot of investment put into it in New Zealand and around the world and that development is really bearing fruit and we have seen the standards rise,” said the IRB Hall of Famer.
The system mirrors the men's Series, with each 12-team event featuring six core teams who will play across all four events and six teams who will be invited based on regional tournament rankings, reflecting the IRB's strategic aim to mix the top teams in the world with the best up and coming teams from each of the six IRB regions. The six core teams for the inaugural Series are Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
Women's Rugby is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world and in 2016, the finest female players in the world will take their place alongside their male counterparts in Rio de Janeiro when Rugby returns to the Olympic Games programme. The inception of an international series is a key milestone in the ongoing development of both the competitive standards and the professionalism of the women’s Game.
The IRB Sevens World Series concept is in line with key strategic objectives set out in the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan, expanding the women’s Sevens international competition model, particularly at the elite level of the Game.
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
Rugby World Cup Sevens, Moscow, June 28-30 2013