Rwc 7S - Six Months To Go!

With six months to go until the start of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, planning and preparation for the tournament has reached an advanced stage, promising a feast of world class Rugby and facilities for the thousands of travelling supporters when the tournament kicks off on Thursday 5 March. The 2009 tournament, which for the first time in RWC Sevens history features a women's competition running alongside the men's, is on course to reach new heights. Dubai looks set to welcome up to 120,000 supporters to Emirates Airline's purpose built facility 'The Sevens' over the three competition days, while a strong commercial programme will underpin its success.With six months to go until the start of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai, planning and preparation for the tournament has reached an advanced stage, promising a feast of world class Rugby and facilities for the thousands of travelling supporters when the tournament kicks off on Thursday 5 March.

The 2009 tournament, which for the first time in RWC Sevens history features a women's competition running alongside the men's, is on course to reach new heights. Dubai looks set to welcome up to 120,000 supporters to Emirates Airline's purpose built facility 'The Sevens' over the three competition days, while a strong commercial programme will underpin its success.

Head of Rugby World Cup, Kit McConnell, and RWC Sevens Tournament Director, Beth Coalter, recently travelled to Dubai for meetings with the Organising Committee and to see progress for the tournament - the largest RWC Sevens to date. Both were impressed with the progress that is being made at the new sports complex situated on the outskirts of the city.

"It is amazing to see the progress that has been made on the stadium site since our last visit only three months ago," said Coalter. _x001C_Now that the building housing the changing rooms and other facilities has been erected, it really is beginning to take shape and we can visualise just how impressive the new facility will be. Rugby supporters from all over the world travelling to Rugby World Cup Sevens are sure to enjoy the world class facilities. It's sure to be a memorable Rugby tournament._x001D_

_x001C_We will be announcing the seedings and the competition schedule at the Asia qualifiers in Hong Kong next month, which will have a mix of men's and women's games being played across two pitches,_x001D_ added Coalter.

With the qualifying process for both the men's and women's tournaments reaching its climax in two month's time the final line up of the global cast of nations already confirmed will add to the excitement. In the men's competition, 17 of the 24 teams have been confirmed, while in the women's qualifying nine of the 16 teams have been confirmed.

Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia, France, Scotland and Argentina qualified automatically after reaching the Melrose Cup quarter-finals at RWC Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong and are joined by the Host Union, the Arabian Gulf, plus Uruguay, Portugal, Wales, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Samoa and Tonga. The remaining qualifiers for the men's event will come from Asia (two), North America (two) and Africa (three).

In the women's event, Brazil, England, Netherlands, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand have confirmed their places in Dubai with the remaining spots to be filled by Africa (two), Asia (three) and North America (two).

_x001C_The qualifying process has been a huge success,_x001D_ said Coalter. _x001C_It is the largest ever qualification process for a RWC Sevens with 87 men's teams and 83 women's teams attempting to fill the places up for grabs in Dubai. In addition to this unprecedented number of teams and qualifiers, the standard of competition across the board has been high with teams keen to try and secure a place in Dubai. RWC Sevens 2009 promises to be a tournament not to be missed and the IRB looks forward to welcoming Rugby supporters from around the world to Dubai next year._x001D_

Four qualifying tournaments remain with the Africa women's championship taking place in Uganda on September 20-21, the Asia men's and women's tournament hosted in Hong Kong on October 4-5 and North America men's and women's qualifying taking place in the Bahamas on October 25-26. The final qualifying tournament will take place in Tunisia on October 31 - November 1 when the final three men's teams for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 will be confirmed.