China ready for Women's Series this weekend
This weekend promises to be a major step along the route to growing Rugby in China as Guangzhou hosts the third leg of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
The move to host the event in China's third largest city is designed to jointly foster the Game and give structure to its growth in one of Rugby’s most exciting emerging markets.
As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the IRB and Guangzhou in 2012, the Chinese authorities pledged their commitment to growing both men’s and women’s Rugby, particularly given the opportunities that now exist with the sport’s re-inclusion in the Olympic summer programme from 2016.
It also comes a year out from the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, which brings together the finest up and coming Sevens stars from six men's and six women's nations for a global celebration of world-class sport.
And as preparations towards Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 also 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.
Fans in Guangzhou and web users will be able to watch 12 international sides from all over the globe competing at the 50,000 seater 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 in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow on 28-30 June.
Tournament hosts China, alongside Japan and South America qualifiers Brazil, make up the 12 teams in the landmark event.
"With over 80 per cent of the world’s youth, the IRB has identified the Asia region as being a key growth area for Rugby," according to IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan.
"This weekend's exciting Women's Sevens World Series is just another step forward in that regard. Guangzhou is set to become a centre of excellence and a genuine hub for the sport in China. I'm really looking forward to some excellent matches, especially with Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow just around the corner."
"The IRB has invested approximately £9 million into the development of Rugby in Asia between 2009 and 2012, a region where men’s and women’s Fifteens and Sevens is going from strength to strength," said Egan.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW CHINA SEVENS MATCH SCHEDULE >>
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 qualifiers, Tunisia.
CLICK HERE FOR CHINA SEVENS POOLS >>
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