Rugby Olympic Qualifier Comes To Atlanta

(ATR) Atlanta preps for the 2014-15 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series...World Rugby on the road to Rio 2016.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 04:  Sharni Williams of Australia in action against France during the IRB Women's Sevens Rugby World Series at the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens on December 4, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 04: Sharni Williams of Australia in action against France during the IRB Women's Sevens Rugby World Series at the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens on December 4, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

(ATR) The 2014-15 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series is coming to Atlanta, Georgia, March 14-15.

Twelve teams from around the world with 12 players a squad, will participate in the competition, which is doubling as an Olympic qualifier. Rugby returns to the Olympics at the Rio Games in 2016.

So far, the tournament has made stops in Dubai, UAE and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

World Rugby and USA Rugby are staging competition for the Atlanta Sevens Series at the Fifth Third Bank Stadium near Kennesaw, Georgia.

Eoin McHugh, World Rugby Tournament communications manager, is one of the World Rugby representatives who will be in attendance at the series this weekend.

On Tuesday, World Rugby held a teleconference for journalists on the tournament and preparations for the debut of Rugby Sevens in Rio.

Avan Lee, general manager sevens for World Rugby, led the conference.

Responding to a question fromAround the Ringson World Rugby's perspective on venue construction for the Rio Games, Lee said, "We, with other sports federations, had general concerns about the state of construction, but we're lucky in that we've got an established venue.

"There's already the facility in Deodoro."

Lee said World Rugby now hopes to see progress in Rio on the construction of stands, player facilities, and consumer facilities.

"I understand some sports have major concerns about their facilities, but I think we're reasonably happy with the progress."

Lee said that the IOC's decision to include Rugby Sevensin the Olympic Program for 2016 and 2020 was a "fantastic moment" for the sport.

"That has generated a lot more interest in the game, but also from NOCs now who are funding high-performance Sevens programs," Lee added.

"That funding has certainly helped in non-traditional rugby countries.

"When a sport becomes an Olympic sport, it immediately gets more credibility than it probably had before."

Lee said that although Rugby 15s has long been the traditional version of rugby, Sevens has attracted younger athletes to the sport.

"I think that's what does appeal to the IOC--Sevens does appeal to a young audience, it's very much an entertainment product.

"The fans that go to Sevens tournaments on the men's and women's series certainly enjoy themselves, and that's really important to us."

When asked whether World Rugby is concerned about the 12-team limit for the 2016 Olympics, Lee said it's certainly a risk.

"Twelve isn't a huge number when you compare it to the standard of men's teams that play in each tournament or the Rugby World Cup.

"But we're reasonably comfortable with that number.

"The opportunity to be in the Olympics is massive and outweighs any negative aspect."

Australia, Canada, France, and New Zealand currently top the standings for the 2014-15World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Following the tournament’s Atlanta stop, teams will travel to Victoria, London, and Amsterdam.

Written byNicole Bennett

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