By Duncan Mackay

December 17 - Brazil, Germany and Russia have all formally bid to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013, the last tournament to be staged before it makes way for the sport's Olympic debut at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The interest in the event, which will feature 24 men's and 16 women's teams playing over three days of competition, from countries not among the traditional group of rugby nations is proof that the sport's inclusion in the Olympics is already having a positive effect, officials from the International Rugby Board (IRB) claim.

Bernard Lapasset, the President of the IRB, said: "This announcement means that the tournament is guaranteed to break new ground as it will be hosted by a new territory, demonstrating rugby sevens' growing global appeal.

"With the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 to look forward to, rugby sevens is certainly on a high.

"Its winning blend of exciting, try-filled action, world class men’s and women’s players and spectacular rugby has proven a major hit with commercial partners and broadcasters the world over, while also proving highly successful in reaching out to new audiences and attracting new nations to the sport.

"The fact that three new nations from South America and Europe are committed to tendering for Rugby World Cup Sevens is a further representation of the global prestige and growth of a tournament that is a major event on the sporting calendar and one that is cost-effective to host."

Brazil will start as the early favourites to host an event that would be an ideal dress rehearsal for the Olympics.

Its women's team qualified for this year's World Cup in Dubai - the first time a side from Brazil of either sex had reached a major tournament - and with the Brazilian Rugby Union having secured funding from the Government since Rio was awarded the Olympics and sevens was introduced into the Games the sport is set for further major development.

The number of clubs in the country has already doubled from 30 to 60 in the two months since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Copenhagen.

The World Cup in Dubai in March was a spectacular success with the event being broadcast in 141 countries in 19 languages.

Lapasset said: "Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 was the highlight of the rugby year as a spectacle and a resounding success, breaking all previous hosting records.

"It also demonstrated the advances that have been made on the playing side across all continents, with Kenya and Argentina excelling in the men’s tournament and Brazil, Thailand and China making a big impression in the women’s competition."
The host country for World Cup will be selected by the IRB's ruling Council at its meeting in May 2010.

It will be the last occasion the tournament is held as the IRB promised to scrap it if sevens was voted onto the programme for Rio 2016 so that the Olympics will be the pinnacle of the sport.

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