World Rugby details plans for return of Sevens Series
World Rugby, the international governing body for rugby union, has unveiled plans to stage a condensed Sevens Series this year.
The competition will feature five women’s and four men’s rounds, beginning with back-to-back women’s rounds in Paris from 15 to 16 May and 22 to 23 May.
The governing body said the addition of a further two potential men’s events is also under discussion.
Following the women’s events in Paris, the series will pause for the Olympics in Tokyo and resume with a men’s event in Singapore in October, followed by joint men’s and women’s rounds in Hong Kong in November and Dubai in December, before concluding in Cape Town in the same month.
World Rugby added that “detailed discussions are continuing with London and Vancouver on the viability of hosting men’s events in the window following the Olympic Games and prior to the Singapore Sevens in October.”
The 2020 edition was concluded early with five of the eight women’s rounds and six of the 10 men’s rounds completed prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the ongoing global health emergency, World Rugby said it has worked closely with partners, host organisations and participating unions to release its schedule and will collaborate with relevant national governments and health agencies “to ensure the safe and secure delivery of the events.”
In this year’s men’s series, Japan will join as a core team following their promotion from the inaugural World Rugby Challenger Series in 2020, while it has been agreed that in this Olympic year, the England, Scotland and Wales teams will combine to compete as ‘GB Sevens’ in both the men’s and women’s series’.
This will create two additional invitational places for teams to participate in the men’s series events, with invitational teams to be announced at a later date.
In the lead-up to the Olympics in Tokyo, and with the support of the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby is investing $4 million into the sevens programmes of the unions which have qualified for the major event and towards the costs of hosting preparation events.
The first such event was organised in Madrid, Spain last month, with another set to be held in Los Angeles, USA in June.
Monaco will host the World Rugby Sevens Repechage, the final Olympic qualification event, in June.
Rugby sevens debuted in the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and World Rugby claims its inclusion in the games attracted around 30 million new fans globally.
Alan Gilpin, World Rugby interim chief executive, said: “As a key driver of game growth, particularly in emerging markets, the continued success of rugby sevens and the Sevens Series is a strategic priority for World Rugby. This unique Olympic year provides a huge opportunity to reach new audiences around the world.”
Due to the pandemic and international travel restrictions and quarantine measures, some teams may not be able to travel or participate in all Sevens Series events and World Rugby will invite replacement teams to fill places where possible.
International banking giant HSBC serves as the title sponsor of the annual World Rugby Sevens Series.