Here's more on the next women's tournament from the iRB website regarding Brazil as hosts, Argentina's inclusion, and why New Zealand is thrilled for the Brazilian tour stop:
Brazil set to showcase Women's Sevens
Brazil sit joint eighth in the Series standings and head to Sao Paulo, the first IRB Sevens Series event to take place in the 2016 Olympic Games host nation, knowing that they have a great opportunity attract more players and fans to a sport that has witnessed a 25% increase in participation in two years.
President of the Brazil Rugby Union Sami Arap Sobrinho said: “This is a massive opportunity for Rugby and women’s sport in Brazil and, along with our friends from all the other competing nations, we are looking forward to showcasing the breath-taking sport of Rugby Sevens ahead of the Rio Olympics.”
“We are honoured to be representing our nation at Rio 2016 and proud to welcome the world’s top women’s Rugby Sevens players to Brazil this weekend. I urge sports fans to come along and experience our sport, once you have seen the tremendous skill and endeavour, you’ll be hooked.”
With major broadcaster SporTV screening all the action live and the IRB.com streaming every tackle, pass and try, the event promises to give an unprecedented broadcast platform in Brazil to the Sao Paulo Sevens and the draw has delivered some mouth-watering match ups.
The draw was announced as teams left Atlanta following the second round of the Series, where New Zealand claimed the top prize. Sean Horan's players took on Ireland and England in their pool in Atlanta and will do the same again this weekend when they face each other in Pool A, along with USA.
Pool B will see Argentina join the series for the first time this year - and they'll have to do battle with Australia, Russia and Japan in Arena Barueri.
Brazil are in Pool C where they'll face Atlanta Sevens runners-up Canada, Spain and the Netherlands.
Unique opportunity for Argentina's women
A year has passed since they played on the Series and finished 11th in Houston, beating Trinidad & Tobago 25-5 in their final match after losses to South Africa, Canada, USA and South American rivals Brazil and plenty has happened in that time.
Not least the inclusion of the women’s players in the Uniόn Argentina de Rugby’s High Performance programme, which has allowed them to come together on a monthly basis for the last seven months and work on aspects they noticed were not on a par with other teams in Houston.
“Since last year, and based on what we experienced in the Houston tournament, we have tried to improve in several aspects,” explained coach Miguel Serό.
“In terms of lessons learned, we could highlight the organisational side and that we have to improve our physical condition because we noticed a lot of difference with other teams.
Learning from the best
“The inclusion of players within the UAR High Performance programme gave us the possibility of achieving an improvement in physical condition, which has been reflected in a great improvement in the technical side and understanding of the game.”
Training under the same structures as the Argentina men’s Sevens teams has resulted in “vast improvements” which have given the players “great motivation to train harder” according to captain Noelia Billerbeck.
“Our goal is to continue adding experience and continue to grow as a team,” insisted Billerbeck.
For Serό, the opportunity to learn from the top teams is one he is determined to make the most of in order to ensure the team continues to develop in what is now one of the world’s fastest growing sports.
“The main objective from this tournament is to absorb and maximise the different situations that will present at the event and to make a good diagnosis of how our level compares to the other countries,” explained Serό.
“It is clearly very important for us to play on the Series. We believe that every sport has three main parts to develop – training, competition and to spread rugby all over with the help of the media.
South American pride
“Being able to compete with the best in the world is for us an unique opportunity that we will take full advantage of as most of all we want to learn from these great powers.”
The fact that this year they will play on the Series in their own region is not lost on either Serό or Billerbeck with the presence of the Brazilian women at every tournament this season also providing an inspiration to their Argentine counterparts.
“There’s no doubt for South America there is a real pride to have the circuit being held in Brazil,” said Serό. “We can take that as an example and believe that in the future this may be done in another South American country.
“All South American countries see Brazil as a role model in the women’s Game.”
Billerbeck added: “Brazil is a great exponent at South American level and having a tournament there will be very motivational for women’s rugby in the region. It is nice to see a South American country participating in the World Series and it inspires us to work hard to be in that place.”
NZ women relishing Sao Paulo challenge
It was announced this week that the Series will be extended from four to six rounds, after a very successful inaugural year.
New Zealand coach Sean Horan said playing in the country that will host the Olympics was a big opportunity for the team.
“It’s a huge part of the development towards Rio," said Horan.
"There hasn’t been a lot of Sevens played in Brazil, but in three year’s time they will be hosting the biggest Sevens tournament ever, so to have Sao Paulo on the women’s stage is fantastic.
“When it comes to Rio in 2016, to have experienced the Brazilian culture, to have experienced the different climate, travel and logistical arrangements will be hugely beneficial to us as well helping Brazil lay a strong foundation for Rio.”
Horan, who also led the New Zealand "sisters" to Rugby World Cup Sevens glory in Moscow in June, said his team would make the most of the opportunity to build a fan base in Brazil ahead of their debut on the Olympic stage.
“The South Americans, including Argentina, they love New Zealand, they love the All Blacks, they love Kiwi rugby and we want to help create a fantastic game for all so all that will help us.”
The Series will now feature six tournaments, kicking off with Dubai (November 28-30), then Atlanta (February 15-16), Sao Paulo (February 21-22), Guangzhou (April 4-6) and Amsterdam (May 16-17). The sixth tournament will be confirmed later this year.
The expansion of the Series underscores the IRB’s commitment to grow Rugby in emerging markets and the Sao Paulo round will complement successful mass participation programmes run by the Brazilian Union ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, where Rugby Sevens will make its debut.
“What it does is give everyone confidence about where the game is going, to go from nothing two years ago with invitational tournaments, to a World Series of four to six, the growth is there heading to 2020 so that is really exciting for Women’s Rugby,” said Horan.
“We have always been prepared for it and thought we would have to emulate what the men do, backing up two tournaments in a row. That is something we will now have to take into consideration – as players have told me, Sevens is what we do now, it’s our job, we enjoy doing what we do and we just go and do it.”