The Women's Sevens Challenge Cup will be held in the UAE as a pilot event in the plan ahead by the IRB.
Testing waters for international sevens series for women in Dubai
DUBAI // Rugby's leading female players will return to the UAE in December when the Dubai Rugby Sevens hosts the first edition of a new international women's tournament, sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB).
The competition is the pilot event for a planned women's sevens series, similar to the HSBC World Sevens Series in the men's game, which the IRB intend to launch next year.
Australia, South Africa, United States, Canada, England, Brazil, China and Spain will play for the Women's Sevens Challenge Cup, which will run simultaneously to the men's event at The Sevens.
The new competition, and the new series starting in 2012, are designed to help prepare the women's game for the World Cup Sevens in 2013, as well as its admission into the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in five years time.
"Ever since the [decision] to adopt rugby sevens into the Olympic movement from 2016, the IRB has been working with its member unions towards the inception of a Women's International Series," Bernard Lapasset, the IRB chairman, said in a statement.
"This competition in Dubai is a first exciting step towards that. Having hosted the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 for both men and women, Dubai has already proven itself as an ideal venue to cater for both competitions."
The leading players in the women's game are no strangers to the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but they have seldom played here under their national flag.
Last year, the Samurai Dubai side, who won the International Women's title at The Sevens, were essentially the England team under a different guise. Sides from Scotland and eastern Europe are also regular participants at the annual Sevens weekend.
Australia won the title on the only occasion an official IRB-sanctioned female tournament has been played at UAE rugby's headquarters, when they won the 2009 World Cup Sevens.