New Zealand won their opening match of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series event in Cape Town ©Getty Images

South Africa suffered a heavy defeat to New Zealand at the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series event in Cape Town.

The hosts are competing in front of a home crowd at a World Rugby Women's Sevens Series for the first time, having been invited to join the 11 core teams. 

They were thrashed 40-0 by overall leaders New Zealand at the Cape Town Stadium, however. 

In the remaining Pool A game, Fiji overcame Russia 38-19. 

The United States continued their campaign for a second World Series win this season, easing past Ireland 38-0 in Pool C.

Australia then recorded a comfortable 32-0 win against England. 

In Pool B, France triumphed 36-12 against Spain, while Canada defeated Brazil 32-0. 

The pool stages conclude tomorrow, with each team playing two matches each.

The quarter-finals, semis and gold-medal match are scheduled for Sunday (December 15).