The captains of the 16 women's teams due to compete at the sixth Rugby World Cup Sevens (the second time women have participated) in Moscow this weekend have come together today to launch the tournament at the iconic Red Square.
“Hosting of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow marks a significant milestone in the ongoing growth of Rugby here in Russia and around the world," said IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper.
“For the IRB and for the Rugby Union of Russia, it is the opportunity to break new frontiers and reach out and engage new audiences, new players, new nations that makes Russia so appealing.”
Four years ago, Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai paved the way for the sport's Olympic return and notably featured the first ever tournament for the women's game, won by Australia.
“Winning in 2009 is something that I will never forget," said the Wallaroos' sole survivor from four years ago, Rebecca Tavo.
"It provided an incredible boost to the profile of women’s Rugby and women’s team sport in Australia. It put us on the map.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity of defending our title in Moscow, but it will be tough. All the teams have improved. Standards have increased greatly. We have some fantastic young talent in our squad and I am impressed with their skill level.”
At the launch Canada's Jen Kish was bullish about her side's chances: “We are not just coming here to compete. We are coming to Moscow to win the World Cup. We spent three years working towards this tournament so if you don’t want to win why would you be here? I believe with the staff and the players we have here that we have a shot at that and it’s something well within our abilities.”
And Ireland's captain Claire Molloy added: "South Africa is our first game and that is all we are thinking about. If we don’t win that game we could struggle and we have to get that win. There is a huge opportunity to get into the top eight and get onto the World Series. It is within our ability but every team in our pool will be thinking the same thing."