A new era for rugby sevens will open in Dubai on Friday when the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series takes place, the first major competition to be held since the sport was voted into the Olympics for Rio 2016.

South Africa, the defending champions, will be hoping for a repeat of last year's performance when their 19-12 win over England in the final launched their campaign in spectacular fashion as they went onto lift the overall title.

South Africa and England have both been preparing for this year's event in Dubai having arrived earlier and both are in confident mood.

Paul Delport, South Africa's captain, said: "Training has been going well.

"We arrived a few days ago and it makes such a difference arriving a bit early because we have had a chance to acclimatise.

"All of the hard training was done before we left South Africa so we're just working on a few more small things before things kick off on Friday."

South Africa have been placed in Pool A with Australia, Wales and hosts Arabian Gulf for company.

England, meanwhile, are in Pool C alongside Kenya, United States and Russia and coach Ben Ryan is confident of a good showing.

He said: "I get more excited every year; we're at the start line in Dubai and it gives England every chance with the support here so [it seems] positive.

"We haven't had any tournaments to warm up and some of the other teams have.

"Our first game will be the first time the new team gets to run out together, but I'm excited.

"They [South Africa] probably are the team to beat, but when you get to the top the list of teams able to win is very long, whether it's South Africa, Fiji, ourselves, New Zealand, Argentina, Samoa, Kenya - they're all capable of rolling you over and that list gets longer every year."