Aussie golden girls set for Dubai de­fence

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons face South Africa in open­ing sevens clash

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

Olympic gold medal win­ners and 2015-16 women’s se­ries cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia will be­gin their HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Se­ries 2016-17 cam­paign against South Africa, fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the full match sched­ule for the Emi­rates Air­line Dubai Rugby Sevens.

While Fiji start their men’s se­ries de­fence against Canada, Aus­tralia’s women start against the in­vited South Africans and also face USA and Rus­sia, whom they beat 31-12 to win last year’s Dubai fi­nal.

That vic­tory proved the cat­a­lyst for a sea­son to re­mem­ber as the Aus­tralians took two fur­ther ti­tles and over­all se­ries suc­cess for the first time – a step­ping stone to Olympic gold.

World Rugby chair­man Bill Beau­mont said: “With the ex­cite­ment of the Olympic Games still fresh in peo­ple’s mem­o­ries, an­tic­i­pa­tion has never been higher ahead of a new HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Se­ries sea­son kick­ing off.

“Dubai al­ways pro­vides a su­perb setting and at­mos­phere and it will be fas­ci­nat­ing to see whether Aus­tralia will con­tinue their goldmedal win­ning form into the se­ries and whether new chal­lengers will emerge as we be­gin the road to Tokyo 2020.”

Olympic sil­ver medal­lists New Zealand, win­ners in Dubai in 2012 and 2014, be­gin their Dubai cam­paign against Ire­land and also face France and Fiji.

Les Bleues have fin­ished fourth at the last two Dubai events.

Canada, who fin­ished third in the 2015-16 se­ries, start against Brazil in pool C, while England and Spain get the ac­tion un­der way in Dubai with the very first match.

The fifth women’s se­ries will also qual­ify four teams for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Fran­cisco in July 2018.

New Zealand, Canada, Spain and USA have qual­i­fied by virtue of reach­ing the semi-fi­nals at RWC Sevens 2013 but the top four na­tions out­side of these in the 2016-17 se­ries will se­cure their places in the 16-team event.

The women’s com­pe­ti­tion starts on De­cem­ber 1 with pool matches and con­cludes with knock­out matches on De­cem­ber 2.

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