The IRB has announced the pools and match schedule for the opening round of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
Twelve international sides from across six continents will compete for the opening round of the Series on 30 November – 1 December, with three of the six core teams, England, Canada and Australia, heading the trio of pools.
The top six nations were placed across the three pools based on results in last season’s IRB Women's Challenge Cup events, and on their performances in Regional tournaments. The next six teams were placed based on their performances in regional competition over the past year, including Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifying.
As winners of two of the three Challenge Cup tournaments in the 2011/12 season, in Hong Kong and London, England head Pool A and face three tough matches against Spain, South Africa and 2016 Olympic hosts, Brazil.
Defending Dubai champions Canada head Pool B and face matches on day one against recent champions of Oceania, New Zealand, round three hosts China and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 hosts, Russia.
Reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Australia will contest Pool C against two core sides set to host rounds of the Series, USA and Netherlands, as well as European powerhouse France.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The inaugural Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai in 2009 played a huge part in our rejoining the Olympic Games and now Rugby Sevens is one of the world's fastest-growing team sports.
"It is therefore entirely fitting that we kick off the 2012/13 IRB Women's Sevens Series at a venue that has performed such an important role in the promotion and development of Women's Rugby Sevens and with its winning blend of world class entertainment on and off the pitch, I am sure that this year's Dubai event will be one to remember.
"While the race to claim a historic piece of silverware will be the immediate priority, the Olympic journey is well and truly underway for these outstanding female athletes, who will have one eye on showcasing their skill, speed and talent on the world's biggest sporting stage in four years time."
IRB Women’s Sevens World Series 2012/13
Round 1 – UAE: Dubai, November 30 – December 1, 2012 – 7he Sevens Stadium
Round 2 – USA: Houston, Texas, 1-2 February, 2013 - BBVA Compass Stadium
Round 3 – China: Guangzhou, 30-31 March 2013 - Guangzhou University Town Stadium
Round 4 – Netherlands: Amsterdam, 17-18 May 2013 - NRCA Stadium
*Rugby World Cup Sevens, Moscow, June 28-30 2013