100 Days To Go To Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009

irb-7sWith 100 days to go until Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 kicks off in Dubai, the showpiece tournament is on course to deliver a festival of breathtaking Rugby, world class facilities and a memorable event for fans attending from all over the world.

The tournament, which for the first time in RWC Sevens history features a women’s competition alongside the men’s event, is on course to take Rugby World Cup Sevens to new heights after a record-breaking tournament three years ago in Hong Kong.

Ticket, travel, commercial and broadcast programmes are all on track as Dubai looks set to welcome up to 120,000 supporters from all over the world to Emirates Airline’s purpose-built facility ‘The Sevens’ over the three competition days.

Rugby World Cup Sevens Tournament Director Beth Coalter, speaking from Dubai ahead of this week’s opening round of the hugely popular IRB Sevens World Series at The Sevens, said that she is impressed with the high level of planning and preparation for the tournament – the largest RWC Sevens to date.

“With 100 days to go until the start of Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai we are confident that we are on track to deliver the best ever Rugby World Cup Sevens. The new Sevens facility looks superb and will deliver world class facilities for the teams and for the thousands of fans who will travel from all over the world to attend this special event to watch the best players,” said Coalter.

“The tournament will be played on two Rugby pitches with men’s and women’s matches played on both over the three days ensuring that the teams get to experience the special atmosphere of the main pitch. The finals will all be played on the main pitch and I am sure that both the men’s and women’s tournaments will deliver wonderfully competitive and exciting matches.”

The global qualification process for the tournament is now complete.

Defending champions Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia, France, Scotland and Argentina all qualified automatically after reaching the Melrose Cup quarter-finals at RWC Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong.

They will be joined by Host Union, the Arabian Gulf, plus regional qualifiers Uruguay (South America), Portugal, Wales, Georgia, Ireland, Italy (Europe), Samoa, Tonga (Oceania), Japan, Hong Kong (Asia), USA, Canada (North America), Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tunisia (Africa) in the men’s tournament.

In the women’s event Brazil (South America), England, Netherlands, Russia, France, Spain, Italy (Europe), Australia, New Zealand (Oceania), South Africa, Uganda (Africa), Japan, Thailand, China (Asia), Canada and USA (North America) have all confirmed their places in Dubai through regional qualifiers.

“The global qualifying process has been a great success,” added Coalter. “It is the largest ever qualification process for a RWC Sevens with 87 men’s teams and 83 women’s teams from all six IRB regions competing to secure a place for Dubai.

“In addition, the standard of competition across every qualifying tournament has been extremely high. Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 promises to be a spectacular event and the IRB looks forward to welcoming the global Rugby community to Dubai in March.”

Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group, added: “With just 100 days to go to the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, we are thrilled with the way everything has come together at Emirates’ new sports facility, The Sevens.”

“This weekend’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens will see the public and players getting their first glimpse of the spectacular new venue. And we are certain that in 100 days time it will be even more impressive when we welcome the world back for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 – the largest global sports event Dubai has hosted to date.”

The pools and tournament schedule for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 will be announced at a Rugby World Cup Sevens press conference in Dubai on January 19.

This is the time to convince your partners / spouses / mothers that Dubai is the New Paris when it comes to shopping – ed

IRB Adopts New Player Availability Regulation for International Matches

The International Rugby Board Council today adopted a new regulation on player availability for international matches. The new Regulation 9 will apply from January 1, 2009 and follows extensive consultation with all stakeholders.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said, “Over recent years the IRB has been engaged in a detailed consultation process with its Member Unions to develop a player release regulation that is consistent with the needs of the modern Game and is fair and proportionate for all stakeholders.”

“I believe we have achieved an outcome that will now provide more certainty and clarity for everyone in the Game. The adoption of this new Regulation 9 follows on from various initiatives undertaken by the IRB recently to establish a global consensus on the Game and how its regulatory structure should meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving sport. The IRB is continuing to review all of Rugby’s regulations with relevant stakeholders to ensure they remain fit for purpose.”

“As a world governing body we are conscious of the need to create a defined framework and schedule for the organisation of international and domestic matches. This is reflected in the revised Regulation 9 which caps the number of international matches for which players must be released and identifies when they are released back to their clubs or provinces.”

“Due to differences in playing seasons and tournament structures the number of international matches is 11 for Northern Hemisphere Unions and 12 for Southern Hemisphere Unions. Furthermore, Council decided not to include fallow weeks in international tournament periods as part of the release periods,” added Mr Lapasset.

Regulation 9 will only apply to the following:

Release for Designated Events

* Rugby World Cup and Qualification
* Rugby World Cup Sevens
* British & Irish Lions Tour
* Olympic Rugby Tournament and Qualification

Global release periods

* June international window – the right to release for the senior national representative team, the next senior national representative team and the Under 20 national representative team. Three matches played in June.
* November international window – the right to release for the senior national representative team, the next senior national representative team and the Under 20 national representative team. Three matches played in November.
* There are no Global Release Periods in a Rugby World Cup year.

Hemisphere Release Periods

* Annual release period for Northern Hemisphere eligible players: Five weeks (matches) out of the seven weeks from the first weekend of February to the third weekend of March for the senior national representative team, the next senior national representative team and the Under 20 national representative team.

* Annual release period for Southern Hemisphere eligible players: Six weeks (matches) out of the nine weeks from July 1 to August 31 for the senior national representative team, the next senior national representative team and the Under 20 national representative team.

Release for pre-match assembly, training and squad sessions

* The Assembly period begins five days prior to the kick off of an International match
* The Rugby World Cup Assembly period begins 35 days prior to the start of the tournament during which warm-up matches may be played
* Three squad sessions per year are permitted, each session is for a maximum of three days for up to 30 players from the senior national representative team, to be taken as follows:

For all Unions, the Monday to Wednesday of the week preceding the Assembly period for the November window

For Northern Unions, the Monday to Wednesday of the week preceding the Assembly period for the Northern Hemisphere release period

For Southern Unions, the Monday to Wednesday of the week preceding the Assembly period for the Southern Hemisphere release period

The third session may be taken from a Monday to a Wednesday, subject to notification in advance of the relevant season

How about the non-professional players that can’t get leave from their employers … can we use this ruling to get time off. 😛


IRB Awards of the year

Shane Williams Named IRB Player of the Year 2008

Wales wing Shane Williams has been named the International Rugby Board Player of the Year for 2008. He received the prize at the IRB Awards ceremony in association with Emirates Airline, which was held in London on Sunday evening.

The 31-year-old, who scored six tries during the 2008 Six Nations to break the Wales all-time try scoring record, is the first Welshman to pick up the most prestigious individual award on the Rugby calendar.

Williams fought off stiff competition from New Zealand fly half and 2005 IRB Player of the Year Dan Carter, his Wales teammate Ryan Jones, Scotland scrum half Mike Blair and Italy captain Sergio Parisse to win the nomination from the IRB Awards judging panel convened by double Rugby World Cup winner John Eales.

“It’s quite mad to be honest,” said Williams moments after receiving the award. “It’s been a hell of a year and this has just capped it off really. It’s the biggest honour you can get as an individual in rugby and it’s totally overwhelming.”

On an evening of celebration and reflection at the ceremony hosted at Old Billingsgate, Williams’ success prevented a clean-sweep for New Zealand of the top awards as New Zealand reclaimed the IRB Team of the Year award while Graham Henry was named IRB Coach of the Year.

For the All Blacks and Henry, the awards cap a tremendous year that saw the team bounce back from a disappointing Rugby World Cup to win the Tri Nations in 2008. To date New Zealand has a record 12 wins from 14 Test matches with the possibility of a successful grand slam tour of the northern hemisphere on the cards if they beat England at Twickenham on November 29.

“It’s been very satisfying,” said Henry reflecting on the year and his award. “There have been 15 or so players who left us after the Rugby World Cup to play in this part of the world so it’s great to have a team that’s relatively young and inexperienced come through and do the business.”

Continuing a successful evening for New Zealand, DJ Forbes was named IRB Sevens Player of the Year. A key player in New Zealand’s dominance of the eight-round Grand Prix style Series, captain Forbes led by example, scoring 130 points as his side claimed the title for the eighth time in nine seasons.

New Zealand’s evening of awards was rounded off with promising talent Luke Braid winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year. The new category, introduced to reflect performances at the IRB Junior World Championship which made its debut in 2008, was hugely competitive with Braid facing stiff competition from teammate Chris Smith and England’s Joe Simpson for the prestigious age grade accolade.

The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) Special Merit award went to former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot. This was in recognition for his tremendous service to the Game on and off the field and in particular his role over the last decade in helping drive Argentina into the top five of the world. The IRPA Try of the Year was awarded to the Irish team and Brian O’Driscoll who scored a wonderful try against Australia in June.

The IRB Women’s Personality of the Year was awarded to Carol Isherwood OBE, one of the driving forces behind England’s success on and off the field over the past decade and a champion of the global development of the Women’s Game. The IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service was awarded to 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cup final referee and SA Rugby Referee Manager Andre Watson.

The Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service went to former Australia international Sir Nicolas Shehadie OBE, the Spirit of Rugby Award was presented to Roelien Muller and Patrick Cotter, organisers of the Phuket 10s who raise funds for orphans of the 2004 Tsunami. The IRB Development Award was given to the TAG Rugby Development Trust who introduce thousands of children to Rugby in Africa and India each year through the non-contact form of the Game.

The ceremony also saw the announcement of five inductees into the IRB Hall of Fame. Established in 2006 to chronicle the achievements and the special contribution of Rugby’s players, coaches, administrators, match officials, institutions and individuals, the 2008 inductees are; 1888 Natives Team of New Zealand and their captain Joe Warbrick, Melrose Club and Ned Haig, British Lions legend Dr Jack Kyle, Argentina great Hugo Porta and France’s record breaker Philippe Sella.

IRB Awards 2008

IRB Player of the Year: Shane Williams (Wales)

IRB Team of the Year: New Zealand

IRB Coach of the Year: Graham Henry (New Zealand)

IRB Junior Player of the Year: Luke Braid (New Zealand)

IRB Sevens Player of the Year: DJ Forbes (New Zealand)

Spirit of Rugby Award: Roelien Muller and Patrick Cotter

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service: Sir Nicholas Shehadie

IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service: Andre Watson

IRB International Women’s Personality of the Year: Carol Isherwood

IRB Development Award: Tag Rugby Development Trust and Martin Hansford

IRPA Special Merit Award: Agustin Pichot

IRPA Try of the Year: Brian O’Driscoll, Australia v Ireland

IRB Hall of Fame inductees: 1888 Natives Team of New Zealand & Joe Warbrick, Melrose & Ned Haig, Dr Jack Kyle, Hugo Porta and Philippe Sella.

On Behalf of BRFU, we would like to congratulate Phuket Vagabond for their achievement!

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The wrong mix

China’s rugby union team have pulled out of a landmark tournament in Taiwan due to visa problems, sporting officials said yesterday, although they denied any political reasons were behind the withdrawal.

“There was lots of paperwork [for the visas] and we needed to hand in lots of material for each member of the team,” said an official with the China Rugby Association surnamed Zhang.

“In the end there were some problems with the material we handed in so we had to pull out,” he said.

The tournament, to take place in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan this week, was meant to see China line up against Taiwan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

It is part of the Asian Five Nations series, involving 25 teams from across the region.

The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that China may have pulled out because it was concerned about protests by nationalist Taiwanese, and that the competition was described as a “nations” tournament.

But Zhang insisted politics had no influence on the team’s withdrawal.

“It is not that,” he said when asked about the alleged political concerns.

Recent visits by two Chinese envoys to Taiwan were met by protests.

China’s top Taiwan negotiator, Chen Yunlin, made history when he visited Taiwan last week, but protests against his visit ended in clashes between police and demonstrators that left more than 110 people injured.

Last month, his deputy Zhang Mingqing — in Taiwan to prepare for Chen’s visit — was jostled by independence activists in Tainan and fell to the ground.

Taiwanese rugby officials said that China’s visas had been approved on Oct. 25, so the problems lay with the Chinese side.

“They apologized to us saying they could not get their visas processed,” said Pian Ying-hui, from the Chinese Taipei Rugby Football Union.

This is what happens when you mix Politics & Sports – Ed

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Asia for 2015 World Cup

Rugby’s power-brokers would be foolish not to hold the 2015 World Cup in Asia, according to Japan coach John Kirwan.

Japan lost out to New Zealand for the 2011 tournament but former All Blacks winger Kirwan says an Asian country should get the nod ahead of England and other rivals for the next one.

“I think it would be very silly not to give it to Asia,” Kirwan told Reuters after returning from last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup clash between New Zealand and Australia in Hong Kong.

“People are probably talking about England getting the World Cup more than us (Japan) which I believe would be a mistake.

“Obviously, for (Britain) having the 2012 Olympics that would be the icing on the cake for them, to pay for the infrastructure they’ve already had to shell out for.

“But the strategy of the game going forward is what? To grow rugby or not? That’s the only question the people running this game have to answer.

“If we want to make this game a serious global contender for the sports market then it has to come to Asia.”

The former Italy coach insisted there was still work to be done to convince the International Rugby Board (IRB) to award the 2015 World Cup to cash-rich Asia.

He rejected the notion that IRB officials could feel Japan was “due” having missed out for the 2011 tournament.

“I don’t think it’s a shoo-in,” said Kirwan, who has just signed an extended contract keeping him in the Japan job until 2011.

“There’s plenty of support from the public but from a political point of view there’s still a lot of work to be done.”


Kirwan said his biggest hurdle was breaking down old stereotypes about Japan, Asia’s top rugby nation, among the game’s establishment.

“There are three pretty big misconceptions out there about Japan,” he said. “Firstly, there is an incredible infrastructure here — we’ve got the stadiums, we’ve got everything.

“Second (the misconception) that Japan is expensive for tourists. That’s wrong. You can really live cheaply here. If you want to have $6 noodles for dinner you can.

“Third, will an Asian World Cup make money? Well that’s just ridiculous.”

South Africa and Italy have also expressed in hosting the 2015 World Cup but Kirwan insisted Japan was the logical choice for the IRB.

“They are really concerned about making money but I keep saying this is the second richest economy in the world — tell me there the problems are,” said the 43-year-old.

“We have the biggest companies in the world sponsoring our game — why wouldn’t you want to marry us?.”

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