All 28 captains from both the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series attended the launch of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Wednesday as momentum builds to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 next July in San Francisco.
The women’s series kicks off on Thursday under the Dubai sun as reigning series and tournament champions New Zealand look to begin their campaign in winning fashion.
Head coach Allan Bunting’s side lost just one match out of 30 in the 2016-17 series, claiming five of six tournament titles in the process and finishing up top of the standings on 116 points.
The Black Ferns Sevens will be bolstered by two recent award-winners in the form of World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year Michaela Blyde and World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year Portia Woodman. Bunting believes the duo will help inspire the team and the future stars of the game.
“I think they’ve already inspired some of the girls,” said Bunting. “You know they’ve been at the Awards, come back and they’re on cloud nine and really stoked which is great for them but also I think inspires the young players in New Zealand who can see a real pathway. You could be a normal school girl in New Zealand and go on to represent your country on the world stage some day. So I think they’re inspiring a lot of people back home and will do so at this tournament.”
Dubai will act as the launch pad to an action-packed seven months of rugby sevens for both men’s and women’s teams who will be looking to gain vital points towards their eventual Rugby World Cup Sevens seedings.
For the men, points from the first seven tournaments on the series will be added to their series total from 2016-17 to determine seeding in San Francisco. For the women, their 2016-17 series totals will be added to the first two rounds in Dubai and Sydney next January.
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Report courtesy of World Rugby