Women's Series to be streamed live from China
The International Rugby Board has announced that the next leg of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series will be streamed live from Guangzhou in China on March 30-31.
As preparations towards Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 continue, the first live streaming from the series will make the matches available online for Rugby fans all over the world, from wsws.irb.com.
Web users will be able to watch the 12 sides from all over the globe competing at the Guangzhou University Town Stadium, including the six core teams - Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
The event will see Ireland, Fiji and Tunisia make their Series debuts, ahead of their participation at Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow on June 28-30.
Tournament hosts China, alongside Japan and South America champions Brazil, make up the 12 teams in what is a landmark event for Rugby in China.
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Having won the opening round of the Series in Dubai, and then finishing fourth in Houston, New Zealand's women lead the Series at the halfway stage. Sean Horan's side heads Pool A and faces another core team, the Netherlands, as well as South American champions Brazil and African champions Tunisia.
Aside from New Zealand, Australia are the only side to have reached both semi-final rounds this season and they head Pool B, which also features seventh-ranked Canada, Japan and Ireland. Pool C is made up of England, USA, China and Fiji.
IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "This is a great opportunity for the growth of the Women's Game in China. The previous events in Dubai and Houston showed just how successful the Women's Sevens World Series can be, not least because of the quality of Rugby on offer. With fans all over the world now able to watch online, they'll be hoping to see a spectacular event in China."
"With the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow just around the corner, all sides will want to make an impression, especially the three teams that are making their series debut in Guangzhou."
So far the two titles have gone to New Zealand in Dubai and England in Houston, but the action has been competitive with the likes of Russia, South Africa and Spain proving to be a match for the core sides.
IRB Rugby Committee member Cheryl Soon, who captained Australia to Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens glory in 2009, said: "After two rounds we already have two different Cup champions and at the halfway stage any one of five or six teams could still win the first Series, which shows the competitiveness that has quickly developed in the Women’s Game. The level of professionalism and dedication from the teams is simply outstanding."
VIDEO: The Women's Sevens World Series story so far
New Zealand currently lead the standings on 34 points with a slender lead from Australia (30) and England (28), and only 10 clear of two surprise packages, Russia and South Africa (24).
FULL IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES STANDINGS >>
IRB Women’s Sevens World Series 2012/13
Round 1 – UAE: Dubai, 30 November-1 December, 2012 – 7he Sevens Stadium (winners New Zealand)
Round 2 – USA: Houston, Texas, 1-2 February, 2013 - BBVA Compass Stadium (winners England)
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, 28-30 June 2013