With less than a day to go until kick-off, the captains of the 12 international teams from across five continents have gathered in Dubai ahead of the second IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.
7he Sevens Stadium will play host to the world-class event as part of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens, the annual tournament that attracts thousands of spectators to the unique venue in the United Arab Emirates.
New Zealand won the inaugural competition last season and went on to claim the maiden Series, but they know that the competition will be tougher this time around.
“Every single team here is good quality, and there are no weak links that I’ve seen,” said New Zealand captain Huriana Manuel, whose side will face World Series debutants Ireland in the pool stages.
“We’ve got a lot to work on from last year, we’ve got new, young players in the squad and I’m excited to play with those girls. From our side of things, preparations have been going well and we’re all set for kick-off.”
Canada open the proceedings on Thursday when they face France, and their captain Ghislaine Landry is in the mood to cause an upset this year.
“We started off a little slow last year, but by the end we finished third in the Series. We’re looking to build on that,” she admitted.
“I’ve noticed this week that every team is focused and really putting in the hard work. There are no teams in the Series this year that you can take lightly.”
Meanwhile, all 12 squads for the first round of the Series has been announced. Click here for the final squads.
IRB General Manager for Sevens, Avan Lee, said: “We’re really excited about the start of the Women’s Sevens World Series.”
“Last season was a great success and fans were treated to some great rugby. New Zealand’s women were very impressive in winning both the Series and then the Rugby World Cup Sevens, but they’ll face tougher competition this year, especially with teams hoping to make their way to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.”
The IRB Women’s Sevens World Series will be streamed live on wsws.irb.com from Dubai, beginning at 1pm local time/9am Irish time tomorrow (Thursday).
Jon Skurr’s Ireland squad open the tournament against the USA at 10.06am Irish time, with the Americans having won 14-5 when the sides met in the quarter-finals of the World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
New Zealand – the defending Dubai and World Series champions as well as Rugby World Cup Sevens winners – will be Ireland’s next opponents at 12.42pm, while their final game in Pool A will be against the fast-improving Fijians (3.40pm).
Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and USA are core teams on the 2013/14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series circuit after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2013 World Cup Sevens.
The eight core teams will compete across all rounds of the Series.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens, Dubai, UAE, November 28-29):
Christine Arthurs (Tralee/Connacht)
Siobhan Barrett (Tralee/Munster)
Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Nikki Caughey (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster)
Shannon Houston (Blackrock College/Leinster) (capt)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht)
Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile)
Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Laura O’Mahony (Tralee/Munster)
Thursday, November 28 –
IRELAND v USA, 7he Sevens Stadium, 2.06pm local time/10.06am Irish time
IRELAND v New Zealand, 7he Sevens Stadium, 4.42pm local time/12.42pm Irish time
IRELAND v Fiji, 7he Sevens Stadium, 7.40pm local time/3.40pm Irish time
Friday, November 29 –
Cup, Bowl and Plate competitions (11.40am-9.16pm local time/7.40am-5.16pm Irish time)
2013/14 IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – DATES AND VENUES:
First leg: Dubai, United Arab Emirates – November 28-29, 2013
Second leg: Atlanta, Georgia, USA – February 15-16, 2014
Third leg: Arena Barueri, São Paulo, Brazil – February 21-22, 2014
Fourth leg: Guangzhao University Town Stadium, Guangzhao, China – April 4-6 2014
Fifth leg: National Rugby Centrum, Amsterdam, Netherlands – May 16-17, 2014
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