The road to Rugby World Cup Sevens: Women

Qualifying battles raged all over the world in 2008 as countries across the six IRB regions went head to head for coveted places at the first ever Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens competition in Dubai. We take a look back at that qualifying journey.

Qualifying battles raged all over the world in 2008 as countries across the six IRB regions went head to head for coveted places at the first ever Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens competition in Dubai. We take a look back at that qualifying journey.

As Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 is a landmark first for the Women’s Game, the seeding structure is based upon the qualifying tournaments across all six IRB regions during 2008.

The 16 teams who compete in the women's competition in Dubai are: Brazil, England, Netherlands, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Uganda, Japan, Thailand, China, USA and Canada.

The qualifying tournaments were as follows:

AFRICA

Qualified: South Africa and Uganda

South Africa lived up to their billing as favourites, conceding only two tries on the way to the title and beating Uganda 24-0 in the final at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala.

Seven nations competed for Africa’s two spots - South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tunisia joining hosts Uganda - with Botswana entering an international women's competition for the first time.

South Africa confirmed their place in Dubai by beating Kenya in their semi final while Uganda's players shed tears of joy after they edged out Tunisia 7-0 in the other to qualify and become their country's first side to ever reach a World Cup.

ASIA

Qualified: Japan, Thailand and China

At the beginning of October, Japan and Thailand upset the form book in Asia, the Japanese edging favourites Kazakhstan 5–0 in their semi final and Thailand beating China 14–7 in an equally tough last four match at the qualifiers in Hong Kong.

Japan shaded a tight women's final 17-12, while in the crucial play-off for the third qualifying spot China beat Kazakhstan 17-5 to join Japan and Thailand in the 16-team draw.

EUROPE

Qualified: England, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, France and Italy

England, coached by former men's captain Simon Amor, lived up to their billings as favourites by winning the European Sevens in Limoges, France, in June to qualify with an unbeaten record.

Following on from other impressive victories against the NZ Maori and in the Home Nations Cup at Murrayfield, England defeated the Netherlands 50-0 in the final to lead the European charge to Dubai.

OCEANIA

Qualified: Australia and New Zealand

Nicole Beck’s try on full-time snatched a thrilling 22-15 victory for Australia against New Zealand in the final, both sides having already won through to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai by reaching the Oceania Sevens title decider.

The Australians, coached by men’s Sevens captain Shawn Mackay, had to come from behind initially after Selica Winiata raced clear from halfway to score the opening try for New Zealand in a thrilling end to end encounter.

NORTH AMERICA

Qualified: Canada and USA

Canada got the better of their arch rivals and neighbours USA in the NAWIRA Sevens final in the last women's regional qualifying tournament, which was played in the Bahamas in late October.

Rosie Corbett raced over the match-winning try to seal a 19-14 victory in Nassau, although both teams will be heading for Dubai after securing the two spots on offer as expected.

“This was a huge win for us, neither of us had been under a whole lot of pressure this weekend and we knew that if we kept our shape on defence and stuck to our game plan, we could compete," said Canada coach Natasha Wesch.

SOUTH AMERICA

Qualified: Brazil

Brazil had the honour of becoming the first women’s team ever to qualify for a Rugby World Cup Sevens after their 45-0 defeat of Argentina in the Punta del Este final in January 2008.

With Paula Ishibashi in inspired form - scoring four tries in that final - Brazil secured a fourth successive CONSUR Sevens title in Uruguay to confirm their place as South America’s leading female team and the region's sole qualifier for Dubai.