By Zjan Shirinian

Nations from around the world have thrown their hat in the ring to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and the Sevens World Series ©AFP/Getty ImagesMarch 3 - Twelve countries across five continents have expressed an interest in hosting the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.

The interest, repeated for the Sevens World Series - which sees 25 countries putting themselves in the frame - has been hailed as an "unprecedented response" by International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset.

He added it "truly reflects the enormous prestige and appeal of rugby sevens in the global sporting market place ahead of our Rio 2016 Olympic Games debut".

The 12 World Cup bidding nations are: England, Fiji, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United States and Wales.

The tournament, which made its debut in Scotland in 1993, has twice been hosted by Hong Kong, and once each by Argentina, Dubai and - most recently in 2013 - in Moscow, Russia.

"The submission features a blend of interest from every continent and includes existing and emerging rugby markets," added Lapasset.

"It reaffirms rugby sevens as a young, exciting and thriving sport that is reaching out, engaging and inspiring new audiences around the world.

"We look forward to collaborating with each interested party as we look ahead to the next phase of the process."

International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has hailed the breadth of countries interested in staging rugby sevens events ©Getty Images for IRBInternational Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has hailed the breadth of countries interested in staging rugby sevens events ©Getty Images for IRB

The 25 countries which have bid to host a round of the Sevens World Series in the 2015-2016 season include the 12 World Cup bidders, plus: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Rugby unions had until the end of last month to express an interest in staging either competition.

The deadline for tender submissions for unions interested in hosting the men's and women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 is December 5.

The IRB Council is due to choose the winning bid in May 2015.

The deadline for formal tender submissions for hosting a Sevens World Series tournament is June 27.

The hosts will be selected in October.

The IRB said the dual bidding process followed a "detailed strategic review of Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Sevens World Series hosting models", with consideration given to growing hosting and participation opportunities for the 119 IRB member unions.

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