Opportunities at historical Houston Sevens
In her latest column, IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty looks ahead to the second round of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
It is great to be here in Houston on the eve of another significant milestone for the women's game. The second leg of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series is about to kick off and there is a real buzz and sense of anticipation in the team hotel.
The first round in Dubai was an outstanding success but Houston is ready to build on that, and I can't wait to see what will happen.
The tournament also has the added edge with this being the final opportunity for teams to improve their rankings in advance of the Rugby World Cup Sevens draw later this month, and that can only make things more interesting as we gear towards Moscow in June.
One of the first people I met when I arrived was the Argentina coach Miguel Seró who had the biggest smile I have ever seen. It is three years ago since I visited the Argentina Rugby Union and addressed the need to effectively grow the sport for women and girls there.
Miguel was motivated and committed then and he has been the voice and advocate for Women's Rugby in Argentina right from the start. But Houston is not just a significant milestone for them.
I met some of the Trinidad and Tobago squad and they are settling into the climate change from the Caribbean, but that doesn't dampen their spirits.
I asked them about their preparation for the tournament and interestingly they talked about how similar it was to other tournaments, albeit slightly more intense than before. They begin with a match against Dubai champions New Zealand.
The importance for the future development of the Women's Game in their country is at the centre of their goals for the tournament. They are hoping that by participating in this IRB event they will inspire more girls to take up the sport, as they begin to see it as an opportunity to represent their country on the international stage.
Japan are the other newcomers for the second round are Japan, and I am really excited to see them in action. They returned from their stadium visit this afternoon in very good spirits, talking about how great the stadium is and how fantastic it is to be part of the whole event.
For the hosts, there is no escaping the significance of this event. The USA have been leaders on and off the pitch in the development of the Women's Game over 30 odd years having won the first Women's Rugby World Cup in 1991.
Since then, they have remained one of the top teams in the 15s and they are now part of setting the bar in Sevens. Their Union has developed a close and collaborative working relationship with their National Olympic
Committee and the girls now partner the national men in their high performance centre, which is a big step.
The financial support for the Women's High Performance Programme has grown significantly in a very short space of time in the USA, and there is no doubt their sights are firmly set on Rio 2016.
The importance of this tournament and the progress made in the development of the women's game in the USA is not lost on those who were part of the 1991 era.
Volunteers here in Houston talk fondly of their memories of that time while also remembering the sacrifices and
struggles they faced in their efforts to progress women in the game. They smile with satisfaction to see what is now happening and they deserve a thought this weekend.
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- Brazil aiming to bridge the gap in Houston »
- Trinidad & Tobago ready for a giant step-up »
- Star names return for England Women »
- New Zealand boosted by Black Ferns inclusion »