Rugby World Cup Sevens
RWC 7s qualifying continues in the Bahamas
October 24, 2008
Fiji players pose for a team photo as they celebrate winning the final of the Melrose Cup against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong, 20 March 2005. Fiji beat New Zealand 29-19 to take the title.
Fiji celebrate capturing the 2005 Rugby World Cup Sevens crown © Getty Images

The penultimate qualifying tournament for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai will be played this weekend with the NAWIRA qualifiers in Nassau in the Bahamas.

Nine teams are set to compete in both the men's and women's competitions with two qualifying places up for grabs from each.

In the men's tournament, USA, who have recently been awarded 'core' status to play in all eight events of the forthcoming IRB Sevens World Series, are favourites to progress along with Canada. However, USA Sevens head coach Al Caravelli believes the favourites tag will count for little when they face Mexico and Bermuda in Pool A on the opening day.

"The first objective is to qualify, it's extremely important for USA Rugby as a Union, and then if we become the NAWIRA champions and go undefeated that's a bonus, but the primary objective is to qualify for the World Cup," said Caravelli.

The main threat for the USA will undoubtedly come in the form of North American rivals Canada, who are drawn with Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas in Pool B. Guyana, the reigning Caribbean Sevens champions who have around five of the West Indies Sevens team in their ranks, are joined in Pool C by Jamaica - whom they beat in the last two Caribbean Sevens finals - Barbados and St Vincent & The Grenadines.

The teams are split into three pools of three with the top two teams from each pool redrawn into a Cup competition comprising two pools on day two, from which the top teams will progress to the semi finals. The two finalists will book their passage to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009.

While the composition of the 24-team men's draw for next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens also awaits the results of the African event in Tunisia next weekend, the two women's teams who book their places in Dubai will complete the 16-team line-up at the first ever women's Rugby World Cup Sevens, drawing an end to a qualifying process which has involved 83 women's teams.

Brazil's women made history in January as the first team to qualify. Since then England, the Netherlands, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Uganda, South Africa, Japan, China and Thailand have all qualified for the showpiece event.

The favourites for the women's title in Nassau are Canada and USA, finalists at a women's tournament at the Hong Kong Sevens earlier this year. However, the two teams will face stiff competition from reigning Caribbean champions Jamaica as well as Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. The women's tournament will also create history with the Cayman Islands making their Sevens debut and Bermuda playing their first ever women's international match in either fifteens or Sevens.

"The North America women's qualifier will be a historic event. Not only will it mark the end of the global qualifying process for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, but it will also mark the birth of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda women's national Sevens teams. This truly highlights the growth in popularity and interest worldwide in both the Women's Game and Rugby Sevens," said IRB Sevens Manager Beth Coalter.

At the end of day one the winners and runners-up in the three pools will be redrawn into two Cup pools, the top two in each progressing to the semi finals with the two finalists securing their passage to the RWC Sevens 2009.


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