SA to face hosts in RWC Sevens pool
South Africa was drawn on Thursday to face hosts Russia, Scotland and Japan in the Rugby World Sevens 2013 (RWC) being held in Moscow.
The Springbok Sevens team are the top seeds in Pool B for the showpiece, which takes place from June 28 to 30.
It is being held in Russia for the first time and will take place at the Luzhniki Stadium, where the Olympic Games and Uefa Champions League final have been staged.
The global event will pit the best 24 men's and 16 women's teams against each other.
The draw was made at Petroff Palace, in the heart of the city, in the presence of some of Russia's most celebrated cosmonauts, Olympians and government representatives, and top rugby officials.
It threw up some exciting match-ups in the other pools too.
Pool C will witness a clash of neighbours Kenya and Zimbabwe battle it out with Samoa and the Philippines, the country's first national team to qualify for a World Cup.
Wales will face a tough battle to retain their men's crown, as they take on southern hemisphere rivals Fiji and Tonga along with Uruguay in Pool E.
Neighbours the United States and Canada will clash in Pool D, alongside New Zealand and Georgia. Pool F has England pitted alongside Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong.
Pool A, D and F have three core teams from the Sevens World Series, while the other three have only two.
The decision to host the tournament in the Russian capital is part of the International Rugby Board's development vision and commitment to grow the game beyond its traditional heartlands.
Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu said his team was looking forward to the tournament.
"It is never easy to play the hosts and Russia will be very tough to beat in front of their home fans," he said.
"We've seen them cause many upsets the past few seasons and they must rank as one of the strongest non-core World Series teams.
"There is so much to play for in Sevens rugby nowadays. The Sevens World Series is now much more competitive, teams are playing to secure core status while everyone is gearing up for the Olympics in 2016.
"The Rugby World Cup Sevens is a once-off tournament, it happens only once every four years and the fact that it will now be played at the end of the season means all the teams will be very strong.
"For us, though, a huge motivating factor will be the fact that we've never done well at previous RWC tournaments. Our approach will be very different this time around.
"Saru [the SA Rugby Union] and our management team have done a lot of planning for this tournament, and our aim is to win," said Treu.
Rugby World Cup Limited chairman Bernard Lapasset, who was in Moscow for the draw, said: "As we continue to look forward to Rugby Sevens' Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016, I am confident that Moscow 2013 will be a resounding success."
He said planning and preparation was on track.
"Russia has a proud history of staging exceptional major sporting and cultural events and the RUR (Rugby Union of Russia) and the Russian government will deliver a world-class festival on and off the pitch.
"It will be a Rugby World Cup Sevens festival like no other."
The men's event is split into six pools of four teams with the top team from each pool, together with the two best runners-up progressing to Cup quarterfinals. The defending champions are Wales.
Pool A: Australia, France, Spain, Tunisia
Pool B: South Africa, Scotland, Russia, Japan
Pool C: Samoa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Philippines
Pool D: New Zealand, USA, Canada, Georgia
Pool E: Fiji, Wales, Tonga, Uruguay
Pool F: England, Argentina, Portugal, Hong Kong