The International Rugby Board has announced the invited teams for the remaining three rounds of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series, which kicked off in Dubai at the end of November.
With Series tournaments planned for USA, China and Netherlands the invited teams will have the opportunity to play against the six core teams with preparation for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow very much part of their plans.
The 12-team tournaments already include Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA but the six invited teams for the three remaining rounds are:
USA (Houston), February 1-2: Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago
China (Guangzhou), March 30-31: China, South American RWC Sevens 2013 qualifier*, Fiji, Japan, Ireland, Tunisia
Netherlands (Amsterdam), May 17-18: China, South American RWC Sevens 2013 qualifier*, France, Russia, South Africa, Spain
*These places will be taken by the team that wins the South American Sevens Championship in Rio de Janeiro on February 23-24.
The Series underscores the IRB's commitment to the ongoing growth and development of Women's Rugby around the world. While it includes four destinations this year, it is expected that the Series will grow in future years with an eye on the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan said: "The teams invited to the remainder of this year's series ensure that all six IRB regions are represented and all teams have an opportunity to participate in an increased number of international competitions prior to RWC Sevens 2013 with an opportunity to progress to Women's Sevens World Series honours."
"The quality of Rugby on display in Dubai for the first round was of a very high standard and we expect that bar to be raised even higher throughout the Series as we move towards RWC Sevens in Russia."
"In Dubai, while New Zealand were the eventual winners, we saw a number of the invited sides challenge the core teams so the gap is closing at the top. With an eye on Rio 2016, we are determined to continue to enhance the Women's Game so that the competition is the very best that it can be."
The formation of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series was the most significant investment in Women's Rugby that the IRB has ever undertaken resulting in an annual investment of US$1.5 million. Interest in the Women's Game is at an all-time high and the IRB is committed to providing our female athletes with the best possible opportunities to improve their competiveness and identify the players who will ultimately appear on the Olympic stage in Rio 2016.