With excitement building ahead of the Olympic Games, the world’s top women’s sevens players are in Brazil this weekend for round two of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
Rugby sevens looks set to excite and inspire on sport’s greatest stage at Rio 2016 and for hosts Brazil, this weekend represents an opportunity to showcase the fan-friendly sport to new audiences across Brazil ahead of the Games. Reigning series champions New Zealand arrived in Sao Paulo on Monday, fresh from two rigorous training camps in Florida and Rio, which formed part of their Olympic Games preparation and reconnaissance. Sean Horan’s team, who have claimed all three series titles since the inaugural 2012/13 season, have their eyes on a gold medal at Rio 2016 but will be looking to improve on a disappointing fifth-place finish at a compelling opening round in Dubai. Australia, who top the series standings, arrive as the form team having won a friendly tournament in front of a capacity crowd at the men’s Sydney Sevens last week. Russia, who lie just behind Australia in the standings, will be hoping to continue their fine form, especially as they have still to qualify for Rio 2016 – they’ll get that opportunity in June at the Women’s repechage event in Dublin.
With the countdown to the Games continuing, Brazilian rugby continues to experience record growth with more than 11,000 registered players and 105,000 children engaging in the game through World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme in the past 12 months. World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Along with the world’s best sevens players, we are excited about the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It is rugby’s opportunity to reach and inspire new audiences and we believe that rugby sevens’ exciting brand of skills, speed and breath-taking, fan-friendly action will be a hit with the people of Rio, Brazil and beyond.
World Rugby, working with the relevant authorities, has also implemented a proactive programme to ensure the best-possible framework of protection from the mosquito-bourne Zika virus in the Sao Paulo venue, as well as the training and accommodation environments. All the action from Brazil will be streamed live from Arena Barueri on Saturday, when England and Japan get round two of the series underway at 11.00 (GMT -2).