- HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens acts as round four of the women’s series
- New Zealand currently lead women’s series standings
- Japan confirmed as invitational team
The pools and match schedule have been announced for the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens on 20-21 April, the fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019.
As the women’s competition passes the halfway mark, the race for the coveted world series title continues with teams also competing to secure their ticket to Tokyo 2020 with the series acting as principle route for Olympic qualification.
Kitakyushu follows on from the HSBC Sydney Sevens which saw New Zealand claim victory over hosts Australia, winning six tournaments in a row for the second time in HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series history.
Hosted in the Mikuni World Stadium for the third year running, the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens welcomes the 11 series core teams and invitational team Japan.
Current series leaders and defending Kitakyushu champions New Zealand will face France, who took home silver at last year’s tournament after reaching their first Cup final on the series, Russia and invitational team Japan in Pool A.
Australia, bronze medallists in Kitakyushu in 2018, will take on Canada, Spain and China in Pool B.
USA, currently second in the series standings, are drawn in Pool C alongside Ireland, who reached their first series Cup semi-final in Sydney earlier this month, Fiji and England.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, we are delighted to be back in Japan, showcasing the world’s top sevens teams and players at the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens.
“As we pass the halfway mark of the women’s sevens series there is much on the line for teams as they compete for crucial series points and Olympic qualification. We look forward to another weekend of highly-competitive rugby sevens action.”
JRFU President Tadashi Okamura said: “The HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series will be held in Kitakyushu again this year for the third consecutive year. I am very pleased not only this world-class tournament will be held in Japan but also it will give an opportunity to players and management of participating unions to experience Japanese culture during the tournament.
“The Japan women's national rugby sevens team, the Sakura Sevens, will participate in the tournament as an invitational team this time, however, they are aiming to be promoted and be a core team for next year’s series following the qualifier which will be held before the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens 2019.
“2020 is also the year when the Tokyo Olympic Games will be held, so I will be grateful if we can attract much of the attention for this year’s Kitakyushu Sevens from many people both inside and outside Japan.”
For more information on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, visit www.world.rugby/sevens-series.