Twelve teams will converge on University College Dublin in Ireland on 22-23 August for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifier with two core team places available on the 2015-16 series at stake.

Brazil, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Samoa, South Africa and Wales will all hope to join the sides who retained their core status by finishing in the top nine in the 2014-15 series standings.

Those nine sides were champions New Zealand, Canada, Australia, England, USA, France, Russia, Fiji and Spain with the top four also securing passage to Rio 2016 when rugby sevens makes its debut at the Olympic Games.

China and South Africa have experienced the pressure of a qualifier before, having safely negotiated the 2014 event in Hong Kong along with Fiji and France to ensure they would play in all six rounds of the 2014-15 series.

Olympic hosts Brazil played in five of the six rounds with the Netherlands being the invited team for their home round in Amsterdam in late May, while Japan are the only other team to have appeared on the series, twice in the 2013-14 season.

Brazil and Colombia have already confirmed their place at Rio 2016 alongside New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Team GB, while Mexico have earned a spot in the global repechage tournament next year which will determine the 12th and final qualifier for the women’s event in Rio.

Fierce competition

The Women’s Sevens Dublin will take place at the UCD Bowl in Dublin, which has a capacity of up to 3,000 spectator and is yet another step forward for women’s sport in Ireland as it comes just weeks after it was announced that the country will host Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “With the 2016 Olympic Games looming large on the horizon and the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series now an important and popular fixture on the international rugby calendar, this qualifying tournament in Dublin is extremely important for World Rugby and of course the individual teams involved.

“Competition is fierce at this level and it is very encouraging to see that the overall standard of the women’s game is rising all the time. There have never been so many exciting opportunities for women’s sevens players as there are today.

“The series, the Olympics and of course Rugby World Cup Sevens mean the world’s best female players are in the public eye more than ever before. This in turn is attracting more players, spectators and commercial partners into the game, which is having a significant, beneficial effect.

“I would like to thank the IRFU for hosting this tournament and I’ve no doubt all the teams will be working hard in preparation as they seek to qualify for next season’s series. For two teams that effort will bear fruit and for the rest I’m sure they will benefit from the experience of competing in an elite, high-intensity, two-day sevens event.”

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne added: “We are delighted with today’s announcement that Ireland is going to host the Women’s Sevens Dublin tournament. UCD is a world-class facility and it is a great opportunity to build the women’s game on an international stage.

“This gives us a great opportunity to showcase the game and we look forward to welcoming the international teams to Ireland for what is sure to be a great event.”

Photo credit: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy