Hong Kong to welcome Women's Sevens stars

(IRB.COM) Thursday 23 February 2012
Hong Kong to welcome Women's Sevens stars
Canada won the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event in Dubai - Photo: IRB/Martin Seras Lima

  • Hong Kong event follows hugely successful debut in Dubai
  • Top teams and players to compete for prestigious trophy
  • Momentum building towards Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The International Rugby Board and the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union have announced that the world famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will play host to an IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event.

Following a captivating and ultra-competitive debut in Dubai last December, the stars of the Women's Game will look to pick up where they left off at the last IRB-sanctioned event which saw Canada crowned inaugural champions. An increased number of invitational international teams, representing six continents, will compete for the prized Cup in Hong Kong.

The announcement comes days after IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset's participation in the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport in Los Angeles last weekend where he outlined the IRB's commitment to the growth and development of Women's Rugby.

Women's Rugby is one of the fastest growing forms of the sport and with the Rugby family counting down to Sevens' debut in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the competition on March 23-25 will provide exceptional competition for the teams and a high-octane spectacle for what promises to be a true celebration of Sevens Rugby in Hong Kong.

The 12 teams invited by the IRB to compete in Hong Kong are: Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 champions Australia, England, Dubai winners Canada, USA, Netherlands, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 hosts Russia, 2016 Olympic Games hosts Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Tunisia and Spain. 

Review the IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup in Dubai here >>

“Women's Rugby is going from strength to strength,” said Lapasset. “Participation is growing, interest is increasing and the standard of elite competition has gone through the roof as we build towards towards Rugby Sevens’ debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”

“These invitational IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup events underline the IRB's commitment to delivering an annual stand-alone IRB Sevens Series for Women which we hope to do as soon as 2012/13. Along with our Unions there is a collective determination to grow Women's Rugby and I am sure that Hong Kong will be a major success, giving fans the opportunity to see just how far the Women's Game has progressed."

Trevor Gregory, HKRFU Chairman, said: “The HKRFU has been a long-time supporter of the Women’s Game, especially Sevens. We can think of no better way to mark the 15th anniversary of our Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens than hosting an IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event and we are excited to provide an international platform for even more elite women’s Rugby teams and matches at this year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.”

The Hong Kong event is another key delivery of the recently launched IRB Women’s Rugby Plan which has the staging of a world-class Women's Sevens event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at its core.
It is intended to establish the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in time for the start of the 2012/13 season. Selection to participate in the Series will be linked to performances in IRB-funded regional Women’s Sevens tournaments and other international women’s Sevens events.

“We are really excited about the second IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup,” said IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty. “Not only will it provide the teams with another high-level competition platform, but it will give Women's Rugby yet more global exposure.”

“Collectively the IRB and its Member Unions are developing high performance frameworks which will ensure that more women and girls can fulfil their aspirations to play on the world's biggest stage, the Olympic Games. Hong Kong is another significant step toward the competition structure set out in the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan.”

Click here to read the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan >>

A further exciting announcement relating to Women's Sevens events will be made shortly.