Women's Sevens embarks on new era in Dubai
The first ever IRB-sanctioned Women’s Sevens event kicked off today, the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup, contested in Dubai alongside the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
In a tough, eight-team format played across two pools of four, England and Canada went unbeaten to top their respective groups. England accounted for China, South Africa and USA, while the Canadians beat Brazil and Spain before a battling win against Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Australia.
Fixtures & results (times UAE local)
Day 1 (2 Dec 2011)
11:20 USA 22-10 South Africa
11:42 England 26-15 China
12:18 Australia 12-5 Spain
12:40 Canada 31-0 Brazil
14:44 USA 14-7 China
15:06 England 22-19 South Africa
16:00 Australia 40-0 Brazil
16:22 Canada 19-14 Spain
18:48 South Africa 28-14 China
19:10 USA 0-31 England
20:14 Australia 7-14 Canada
20:36 Brazil 0-19 Spain
Day 2 (3 Dec 2011)
11:00 Plate SF - Spain v China
11:22 Plate SF - Brazil v South Africa
14:09 7th/8th Placing
14:52 Cup SF - Canada v USA
15:14 Cup SF - England v Australia
16:36 3rd/4th Placing
16:58 Plate Final
19:18 Cup Final
The tournament represents a key delivery of the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan which was announced this week and makes a commitment to staging a world class Women’s Sevens event at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We have developed a clear policy with our Member Unions to focus on elite women’s competition ahead of Rugby Sevens’ debut in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and today represents a significant step on the road to Rio de Janeiro for these international teams.
“Once again the women’s tournament will run alongside the men’s, as it did when we hosted the hugely successful Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 here in Dubai, and we look forward to another memorable event this weekend."
Australia captain, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 winner, Rebecca Tavo, said: "Playing this first IRB tournament feels like the start of a new era for the women's game and we are all extremely excited and honoured to be here in Dubai.
"Another World Cup is coming up fast in Russia and beyond that the Olympics and to have such a strong international field here is a sure sign of the future."
The IOC's decision to include Rugby Sevens as an Olympic Sport for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games has provided a significant impetus to the Women’s Game, which is already enjoying record participation around the world.
“Together with our Member Unions we have always had a strong commitment to grow the Game but we now have a strategic goal to host exceptional events and provide a global competition framework to ensure the increased competitiveness and standards of elite Women’s Rugby,” said Susan Carty, IRB Women’s Development Manager.
“We look forward to an exceptional competition here in Dubai and further Women’s Sevens events held alongside the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2012 to help prepare elite players for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow and ultimately the Olympic Games in 2016.”