The pools and schedule have been announced for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens 2019 at the Cape Town Stadium on 13-15 December.
The most mouth-watering of the pools is in the men’s competition, where the three medallists from last year will meet in Pool A in hosts and Dubai champions South Africa, USA and defending series and Cape Town champions Fiji.
With a snake format now used to determine the men’s draw – as it has been on the women’s series – it means that the eighth and ninth place finishes of USA and Fiji respectively in Dubai have resulted in the eye-catching pool that also features invitational team Japan.
With one of the three – who all finished in the top four of the 2019 series to book their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – certain to miss out on the Cup quarter-finals there will be no room for error with Fiji, in particular, not wanting to miss out on the top eight for the second round running.
"It is a big pool and you can't throw away Japan, I think they are a team that can also play well on their day," said South Africa coach Neil Powell.
"It will be a tough pool. If you look at the pool it is one, two and four from last season's seedings. It will be tough but maybe that is something we needed to get a good challenge and if we can get through it nicely it will build character. Hopefully it is a good weekend for us and we will take it one game at a time and our focus is on the first game on Friday night against Japan."
Pool B in the second round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 features Dubai runners-up New Zealand, Argentina, Canada and Wales, while Pool C has a European flavour with bronze medallists England paired with France, Spain and Scotland.
Samoa, Australia, Ireland and Kenya make up Pool D, which will kick-off the men’s competition on Friday with the opening match at 16:37 local time (GMT+2) to be between Australia and new core team Ireland.
Cape Town makes its debut as a host on the women’s series this weekend, becoming the 16th stop since the series began in 2012-13 and the first ever on the African continent.
Dubai champions and series leaders New Zealand are the top seeds and drawn with Russia, Fiji and invitational team South Africa, who will play on home soil for the first time, in Pool A.
Canada, the runners-up in Dubai for the second year running, will face France, Spain and Brazil in Pool C, while USA, Australia, England and Ireland make up Pool C.
The third round of the women's series gets the tournament underway at Cape Town Stadium on Friday at 14:00 local time when Olympic champions Australia take on England.
Teams will play one pool match on Friday with the two remaining matches played on Saturday with the knockout stages bringing the curtain down on the tournament on Sunday.