Draw announced for RWC 7s
January 19, 2009
The impressive 'Sevens' venue in Dubai will play host to the world's best 7s players in March © Getty Images
The build-up to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 intensified today with the pool allocation draw in Dubai.
Twenty-four men's teams and, for the first time, 16 women's team will battle it out to be crowned world champions at Dubai's magnificent new venue 'The Sevens' from 5-7 March.
Defending men's champions Fiji have been drawn with France, USA and Georgia in Pool B as they attempt to become the first side to successfully defend the Melrose Cup following their success in Hong Kong four years ago.
New Zealand, winners in 2001, are joined in Pool A by Tonga, hosts Arabian Gulf and Italy, while IRB Sevens World Series leaders South Africa find Scotland, Canada and Japan awaiting them in Pool C in Dubai.
Men's draw :
The six pool winners and best two runners up will progress to the Melrose Cup quarter finals, the four other runners up and four best sides that finish third in their pool will contest the Plate and the remaining sides the Bowl. The match schedule will be announced shortly.
Fiji coach Waisale Serevi admitted his side faced a tough challenge to defend their crown. "There are no easy pools and that is a measure of how far Sevens has progressed since the last World Cup, with every team capable of beating each other on any given day. We will not be underestimating France or Georgia as they have proven that they can challenge, while USA are also going to be extremely tough.
"We have to be fully prepared and focused for a tournament and make few mistakes as with the games only lasting seven minutes each way, mistakes are punished. We now look forward to the tournament and defending our title and going through the final preparations in Wellington and San Diego.
Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 will feature the first ever women's competition with 16 teams having come through a competitive qualifying process involving 83 nations across the IRB's six regions.
England, the top seeds in the women's competition, will face Japan, Russia and USA in Pool B, while second seeds and Oceania champions Australia are joined in Pool A by Netherlands, France and China.
The draw was carried out by Bernard Lapasset, the Chairman of Rugby World Cup Limited, with Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.
"Now the draw is complete, we can turn our attention to kick-off," said Lapasset. "Dubai has a rich history of delivering exceptional Sevens tournaments and travelling fans can look forward to a tournament that will deliver world class rugby on the pitch and incredible entertainment for all the family off the pitch. It is an event not to be missed.
"While both draws look extremely competitive, I am especially looking forward to watching the inaugural women's competition. The women's game is experiencing unprecedented global growth at the moment and standards are raising year on year. It is going to be extremely difficult to call who will be crowned the first Women's Rugby World Cup champions."
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup