The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series continues in Cape Town this weekend with a three-day event from 9-11 December as the race for Series glory and the all-important Olympic qualification spots hots up.
The 16 men’s and 12 women’s team captains who will do battle for the highly coveted HSBC Cape Town Sevens crowns gathered in the sunshine at Maiden’s Cove in front of the spectacular backdrop of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range on Wednesday as they fine tune their preparations ahead of kick off at Cape Town Stadium on Friday 9 December.
Hosts South Africa will enter the men’s competition in confident mood following their outstanding comeback performance to claim the title in Dubai last weekend and are top of the Series standings after two of the eleven rounds. Backed by a famously noisy and supportive home crowd the Blitzboks will be sure to put on a show in Cape Town.
All conquering Australia continued their recent dominance of the women’s Series with victory in the opening round in Dubai and will be the team to beat in Cape Town.
New Zealand are defending both the men’s and women’s HSBC Cape Town Sevens titles, having beaten South Africa and Australia respectively in the finals the last time the tournament was hosted in the Mother City in December 2019, prior to the onset of the global pandemic.
The women’s Series reaches a major milestone with its 50th tournament in Cape Town and a handful of players who appeared at the inaugural event in Dubai a decade ago are still playing, including Sharni Williams (Australia), Luiza Campos (Brazil), Bianca Farella (Canada) and Tyla Nathan-Wong (New Zealand).
The men’s pool draw for Cape Town sees South Africa in Pool A together with France, double Olympic champions Fiji and Canada. Pool B includes Ireland, who were beaten finallists in Dubai, alongside Samoa, Uruguay and Japan. New Zealand are in Pool C alongside Argentina, Kenya and Spain while the USA, reigning Series champions Australia, Great Britain and Uganda are in Pool D.
In the women’s pools Series title holders Australia are drawn with Ireland, Spain and hosts South Africa in Pool A. Reigning Olympic champions New Zealand are in Pool B together with Fiji, Great Britain and Brazil. Pool C sees the USA, France, Canada and Japan in action.
The action begins at 12:00 local time (GMT+2) on Friday. Saturday kicks off at 08:45 with the quarter-finals taking place from 17:44. Play starts on Sunday at 08:00 with the semi-finals from 11:24 and culminating in the women’s and men’s finals at 19:26 and 19:56 respectively.
The 2023 Series is shaping up to be the biggest, most competitive and compelling to date with more at stake than ever before as the top four ranked men’s and women’s teams will earn qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
At the other end of the table in the men’s competition the number of teams for the 2024 Series will reduce from 16 to 12 to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure, meaning fans can expect an intense battle to avoid relegation throughout the 2023 Series with every match and every point counting towards the final Series rankings.
South Africa men’s captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said: “It is wonderful to have the HSBC Cape Town Sevens back in town. We were very lucky to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens only a couple of months ago and were really grateful for that experience, but somehow this feels different. The vibe around the city is different and I think, having done well in Dubai last weekend, the mood in our team as well.
“We did not do well at the World Cup Sevens, so have this opportunity to fix that so soon after. We owe our supporters a good showing and will have to be at our very best if we want to do that. The standard of the World Series is so high at the moment and every game against any team can go either way. I think it is great for the spectators and the thousands of people expected this weekend will have some very exciting matches to watch.”
South Africa women’s captain Nadine Roos said: “We are so happy to be back, playing in front of our home supporters again. Women's rugby has had a packed year and for us as Springbok Women's Sevens players, it provided a wonderful opportunity to grow the game and expose our talents to more and more spectators.
“We are hoping to do so again this weekend, despite being an invitational team playing against the core teams on the circuit. We want to be where they are now and to get there, these are the challenges we need to conquer. This weekend will give us a sober look at where we are in that regard, but knowing we will have the support of thousands in the stands, will no doubt be a huge boost to our effort.”
Fans in Cape Town can look forward to an exciting weekend of entertainment both on the pitch and around the stadium and remaining tickets for this highly popular event are available from https://capetown7s.com/tickets/.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on World Rugby digital platforms including www.world.rugby, You Tube and Facebook in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.