irbsevens.com 21.Jul.2012Getty Images
The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) has confirmed the draw for the eight-team tournament which features two pools of four. Australia are joined in Pool A by Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands while Pool B features New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga.
With current world champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand already qualified for the Sevens showcase event next year in Moscow, the next best-placed team will gain a passage to the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) regional qualifier in Pune, India, in October. The top three placed teams from that tournament will qualify directly for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013.
Women’s Rugby Sevens has accelerated in growth across the world following the IOC decision to admit the sport into the Olympic Games programme in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty said: "These are exciting times for Women's Rugby. There are now more than a million women and girls playing the Game globally, we have a dedicated plan to grow and develop Women's Rugby and this year will see the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens Series kick-off as we build towards Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow. These milestones are an incredible springboard to our Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016."
“Oceania has been at the forefront of the development on and off the field. Oceania teams were prominent at the last Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 and this qualification event promises to be incredibly competitive. Off the field,Oceania Regional Women’s Rugby Development Officer, Elenoa Kunatuba, has worked tirelessly to develop and implement high performance programmes since her appointment six months ago, which was thanks to funding from FORU and the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC).”
“New Zealand have also been busy in recent months identifying new Women’s Sevens players through their Olympic-based Go4Gold programme, so this tournament will provide a real gauge in how fast these teams are progressing.”
Last month England, Spain, France, Netherlands and Ireland booked their places in Moscow next year by qualifying via the European Sevens Series.