Women's teams ready for action in Brazil
From the cold of Atlanta to the heat of Brazil, all twelve Women's Sevens teams are in place and ready for kick off on Friday.
The third round of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series gets underway in Sao Paulo on Friday, and all teams and coaches are excited about the tournament visiting the city.
Speaking at the captains launch in Arena Barueri, Brazilian captain Tais Balconi said: "It is really exciting to be playing a leg of the WSWS at home, it is some sort of a hint of what is coming next in the Olympics, showing the crowd what rugby is all about."
"We know it will be quite a challenge, specially playing back to back tournaments but it will be a great opportunity to grow the game in Brazil and increase our level".
Brazil are in Pool C with Canada, Sapin and Netherlands and coach Chris Neill is expecting three tough encounters.
"Our pool in São Paulo is quite interesting, all three teams have quite different styles of play and we will have to adapt to each one to be able to compete. It is quite a challenge but we are pretty excited about it, and we'll do everything within our reach to have the best performance possible in front of our supporters".
New Zealand won the second round in Atlanta at the weekend, beating Canada in the final. But Kiwi captain Huriana Manuel thinks the eleven other teams will step it up this weekend.
"The competition is definitely getting tougher throughout all countries," said Manuel.
"We look forward to playing every single team. It's not just a couple of teams that are really giving us a go, it's every single team so we have to turn up and be ready to play everyone and anyone."
IRB Head of Competition and Performance Mark Egan was in Brazil on Wednesday, and says the weekend's competition will help grow Rugby in the South American country.
“The IRB is committed to the development of Rugby in Brazil with nearly 8,000 boys and girls having been introduced to the sport via a variety of development initiatives in the last five years. So far, more than 500 teachers, coaches and referees have been trained in Brazil to sustain the growth and the IRB invested more than US$400,000 in both development support and high performance initiatives in 2013 to grow participation while increasing competitiveness of the men’s and women’s senior national teams.”
The third round of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series kicks off on Friday February 21 at 14.30 (GMT - 3) and all the action on Friday and Saturday will be streamed live on wsws.irb.com.
Anastasia Mukhariamova (RUS), Shannon Houston (IRL), Chiharu Nakamura (JPN), Noelia Billenbeck (ARG), Marina Bravo (ESP), Tais Balconi (BRZ), Huriana Manuel (NZ), Deven Duisiany (USA), Linda Franssen (NED), Abi Chamberlain (ENG), Jen Kish (CAN), Sharni Williams (AUS)