By Tom Degun at the SportAccord Convention in Québec City

Guyana womens_rugby_22_MayMay 24 - International Rugby Board (IRB) President Bernard Lapasset has welcomed the announcement that women's rugby sevens will feature for the first time ever at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, in 2014.

The announcement comes after the IRB and the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CACSO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the sport feature at its second Games.

The inclusion of a women's competition (pictured top, Guyana women's sevens team), alongside the men's, also reflects the growth of women's rugby in a region that is preparing to host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut.

"I would like to thank CACSO, the region's NOCs [National Organising Committee] and in particular CACSO President Héctor Cardona for their ongoing support of rugby," said Lapasset (pictured below).

"We are committed to delivering an exceptional and competitive event that will further the profile of the Games, rugby and our shared values."

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The decision to retain men's rugby sevens in the Games programme and add the women's discipline comes after a successful inaugural CACSO rugby sevens competition in Guyana in 2010 and detailed evaluation of all sports by the 31 National Olympic Committees affiliated to CACSO.

The new agreement will see eight men's and eight women's teams compete in an event which will showcase the sport across the region.

"It is excellent that rugby sevens will once again feature at the CACSO Games," said Tom Jones, IRB regional manager for North America and the Caribbean.

"The addition of a women's event is a real endorsement of a sport that is taking off throughout the NACRA [North America Caribbean Rugby Association] IRB region and South America (CONSUR), and its inclusion will further the development of the game on all fronts."

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North America and the Caribbean are strategically important to the IRB and the overall growth of the global game.

The region has witnessed significant increases in rugby participation over the last four years with more than 500,000 men, women and children actively participating.

The IRB is investing over £10 million ($16 million/€12 million) in the development of the game there between 2009 and 2012.

The 2010 Games rugby sevens gold medal was won by Guyana (pictured above), regular winners of the Caribbean sevens title in recent years and who scooped the coveted Guyana team of the year award after winning their sixth successive NACRA Caribbean title since 2006.

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