Dublin-Ireland, May 13, 2012: International Rugby Board Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, has hailed the success of the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup events this season and underscored the IRB’s commitment to continue driving forward the Women’s Game.
“The IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup events in Dubai, Hong Kong and London have underlined the significant strides the Game has taken since becoming an Olympic sport,” Lapasset said after the Marriott London Sevens event.
“There is no doubt that the Women’s Game continues to go from strength to strength. The sheer competitiveness of the London tournament this weekend in front of a record crowd and global television audience demonstrates that we are on track to deliver a competitive and exciting Women’s Rugby Sevens event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
“Guided by the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan we are committed to delivering an annual IRB Women’s Sevens Series and provide our Unions with the guidance and support to strengthen their High Performance programmes and optimise the Olympic opportunity.”
The third IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup event of the 2011/12 season in London culminated with a win for hosts England, who secured two of the three titles following Canada’s inaugural victory in Dubai.
The success of the Netherlands team in reaching the final against England on Sunday and strong performances from Brazil, China and Spain showed how Unions are continuing to benefit from National Olympic Committee support provided by Olympic inclusion.
“You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far with regards to the (Dutch) programme. The support of the NOC has been incredible and the progress we’ve seen in the last year with these players has been unbelievable.”
“A lot of these ladies have put their jobs on hold in order to train and play Rugby with a clear target of the Olympic Games. They train 20 hours a week, which they need to do if we are going to compete with the big nations,” said Gareth Gilbert, Netherlands Coach.
The IRB Women’s Rugby Plan sets out a clear mission to host a world-class event at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, and Brazil’s women are also embracing the Olympic dream.
“Participating in the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup has provided the opportunity to develop our game on the world stage against the best teams,” said Paula Ishibashi from Brazil.
“We are excited and proud of the opportunity that we have to showcase Rugby in our country in four years’ time. We are focused on our development and we are definitely heading in the right direction.”