From the Namdong Stadium in the Korean capital of Incheon to Nairobi in Africa, there is a wealth of rugby sevens action to savour this weekend with important tournaments taking place in Asia, Africa and Europe.
France’s women may not have medalled at the Olympic Games in Rio but another Rugby Europe Grand Prix Women’s Sevens Series title is within their grasp in Malemort, Brive.
France go into their home tournament sitting top of the standings after winning the first round of the two-legged series in Kazan, Russia, back in June.
However, coach David Courteix has been unable to select a number of key players for the series they won last year to secure their place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
A broken fibula has robbed France of the services of Jessy Tremouliere while Marjorie Mayans is also sidelined through injury. Rose Thomas steps in to captain the side in the absence of Fanny Horta.
Only two of the squad, Thomas and Jade le Pesq (pictured), enjoyed game time at the Olympics where France finished a disappointing sixth, and coach Courteix has decided to blood exciting young talents such as European U18 winners Charlotte Torres-Duxans and Andréa Marcial.
“We don’t have all our players available but it is nevertheless an important start to the season because we won in the first stage of the European circuit in Kazan and we can win the title in Malemort,” said Courteix.
France have been drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, Netherlands and Finland.
ENGLAND FIELD OLYMPIC QUARTET
Third seeds England, meanwhile, will field four Olympians in Malemort, as they prepare to tackle Pool C games against Ireland, Italy and Belgium.
Abbie Brown, Alice Richardson (pictured right) and Amy Wilson-Hardy, who captains the squad, return to England sevens duty following their fourth-place finish with Great Britain at Rio 2016 in August.
The side will also feature a number of new names. Lotte Clapp, Lauren Cattell and Katie Mason, who all played in the 2016 Women's Six Nations, join Lucy Nye, Kelly Smith, Millie Wood and Rachael Woosey in making their debuts on the senior sevens circuit.
Natasha Brennan, who has been a member of the England sevens programme since contracts were first awarded in October 2014, completes the squad.
While England players were part of two mixed GB squads for the first round of the series in Kazan, England will now play as GB Lions and Wales will field a squad as the GB Royals.
Russia are second seeds after their runners-up finish in Kazan and take on GB Royals, Portugal and Ukraine.
ASIA SERIES MOVES ON TO KOREA
This weekend Korea hosts the second round of the men’s and women’s Asia Rugby Sevens Series.
Hong Kong’s men won their home tournament earlier this month, after a tense 22-17 win over Sri Lanka in the final, but the women’s side could only manage third place after a Cup semi-final loss to China. Japan beat the Chinese 14-7 to claim the first women’s title of the three-legged series.
Chinese Taipei provide Hong Kong’s men with their first opposition with further Pool A battles to come later on Saturday against Japan and hosts Korea. Pool B consists of China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.
The top two men’s teams over the course of the three tournaments besides Japan will take part in next year's Hong Kong Sevens for a chance to win a place as a HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core team the following season.
Japan’s women begin their Korean campaign in Pool C against a Singapore side that they defeated 45-0 in Hong Kong. The Sakura Sevens then play Uzbekistan and Hong Kong. Pool D is made up of China, Korea, Guam and Thailand.
ZIMBABWE SUFFER EARLY BLOW
Uganda caused an upset on the opening day of the Africa Cup Sevens in Nairobi after defeating second seeds Zimbabwe 19-14. James Odong bagged a brace and Philip Wokorach made the game safe with Uganda's third try.
Zimbabwe narrowly missed out on a place at the Olympic Games after losing 19-17 to Kenya in last year’s final. However, they now have it all to do if they are going to progress to the knockout stages of the Cup.
Top seeds and hosts Kenya had no such problems in their opening game though, brushing Nigeria aside 33-5 with Ginton Adongo and Lameck Dunde scoring two tries apiece.
Michael Wanjala and Alex Olaba are the only players with HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series experience in Kenya's Africa Cup team.
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