Sixteen men’s and 12 women’s captains lined up ahead of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, which takes place at The Sevens Stadium from 29 November-1 December.
Dubai again hosts both the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, acting as the men’s series opener and round two of the women’s, following on from the opening round in Glendale, Colorado, last month.
The women’s competition kicks off day one (29 November) with the Pool C match between Canada and France in a repeat of the bronze final at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens last month where Canada triumphed 28-0. Spain and Fiji are the other teams in the pool.
In Pool B, defending Dubai champions Australia, one of only two teams to have won the women’s title in Dubai, are set to take on England, USA and new core team China.
Series leaders New Zealand will face Ireland, Russia and invitational side Kenya in Pool A.
Speaking at the captains’ launch, Australia captain Sharni Williams said: “We have come in with some pretty high spirits. Off the back of Colorado, we needed to look at ourselves in the mirror and think about what we need to improve on and achieve at this tournament.
“It’s a tournament that gets us up no matter what. We have been here a number of times and we have been pretty successful here, we want to keep that rolling, we’ve got a lot of pride on the line.”
The men’s tournament kicks off on day two (30 November) where New Zealand will face USA, Spain and Wales in Pool C.
Pool B sees Fiji face Scotland, France and Kenya, while Pool A features defending series and Dubai champions South Africa, Samoa, Argentina and invitational side Zimbabwe. Pool D features England, Australia, Canada and new core team Japan.
New Zealand captain Scott Curry said: “It’s always an exciting time being in Dubai, about to start a new world series. You can see all the teams are pretty keen to get out there and start playing some rugby. It’s definitely an exciting time.
“This year is about qualifying for the Olympics, it’s a massive year for all the teams. You can’t start slow on the world series. To win a world series is all about consistency, so to start here well will lead us off well to hopefully go and win a world series.”
The action gets underway at 12:00 local time on Thursday (GMT+4) with Canada taking on France. The men’s competition begins on Friday with USA facing Spain in the first game of the day at 09:00 local time (GMT+4).