World champions New Zealand will play in front of their home fans in the new year with the addition of a four-team women’s Fast Four tournament to the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton.

New Zealand Rugby announced today the Black Ferns Sevens will play RWC Sevens 2018 runners-up France, China and England during the New Zealand round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 on 26-27 January, a week before round three of the women's series across the Tasman in Sydney.

Black Ferns Sevens stars Sarah Goss (pictured), Portia Woodman and Kelly Brazier were at Hamilton Girls High School to celebrate the first time a women’s international tournament has been integrated into the annual event.

Captain Goss said playing at home in front of fans, friends, family and aspiring young New Zealand sportswomen would be a special occasion for the team.

“We get to play in some amazing places around the world but nothing will beat playing at home in front of a full stadium. It will be a great opportunity to wear the black jersey in front of our families, friends and incredible fans at a great event.

“Hosting France, England and China will be an exciting tournament. They are all tough opponents so we won’t be taking anything for granted.”

Another level

The Fast Four format will see each team play four matches in Hamilton, including three pool matches. The top two teams will meet in the gold medal match, with the bottom two playing for bronze.

The bronze final and gold medal match will be played directly before the men’s Cup final in what will be a thrilling finish to two days of sevens in Hamilton.

HSBC New Zealand Sevens Tournament General Manager Steve Dunbar said confirmation of the women’s event was another historic moment for women’s rugby and a major boost for sevens fans.

“We are excited to be hosting the first international women’s sevens tournament to be played in New Zealand and I know fans will be thrilled to have the chance to cheer on the Black Ferns Sevens at home.

“The recent World Cup showcased the incredible skill, speed and excitement of women’s sevens and fans can’t get enough. Adding a women’s tournament to our Hamilton event alongside the men’s tournament takes the HSBC New Zealand Sevens to another level.”

Although the Black Ferns Sevens have previously played exhibition matches in New Zealand, the 2019 HSBC New Zealand Sevens will be the first time the team has competed in an international tournament on home turf.