A record number of countries have confirmed they will tender for hosting rights to the World Cup Sevens rugby tournament in 2009.

International Rugby Board (IRB) member unions Arabian Gulf, Australia, Kenya, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa and USA all confirmed their bids by the September 29 deadline.

"The fact that seven unions have signalled their intention to host the tournament is significant as it represents an unprecedented level of interest for a rugby world cup event," said IRB chairman Dr Syd Millar.

The World Cup Sevens tournament in Hong Kong last year broke all previous attendance and broadcast records with a capacity crowd of 120,000 fans attending the three competition days.

Television coverage of the event reached over 450 million homes and over 10 million hits were recorded on the tournament's official website.

With Scotland, Argentina and Hong Kong having hosted the three previous tournaments, the 2009 event is guaranteed to be played at a new venue.

The World Cup Sevens in 2009 will be the first to include a women's competition, taking place alongside the men's event.

The tournament will consist of 24 men's and 16 women's teams.

- NZPA