- Fourteen international teams competing in Dubai on 2-3 and 8-9 April
- Combined event confirmed in Los Angeles over weekend of 25-27 June
- HSBC Paris Sevens – Marcoussis event postponed
- World Rugby providing US$4 million funding for rugby sevens programmes and high-performance preparation events ahead of the Olympic Games
- Welfare and safety of players, officials and wider society remains top consideration
Rugby sevens’ journey on the ‘Road to Tokyo’ in preparation for the Olympic Games continues to take shape as 14 women’s and men’s international teams arrive in Dubai to participate in a competitive high-performance training camp, which includes two tournaments on 2-3 and 8-9 April.
Preparations are also progressing well towards the women’s and men’s combined event in Los Angeles over the weekend of 25-27 June, which will take place at the Dignity Health Sports Park and act as a vital final preparation event for many teams ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, due to the increased COVID-19 risks and restrictions implemented in France it has been decided to postpone the HSBC Paris Sevens – Marcoussis event, originally scheduled to take place in May as the first rounds of the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021.
The decision follows a recommendation by the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) Medical Commission to the FFR Board and is fully supported by World Rugby. The welfare and safety of players, officials and the wider community is paramount and the dynamic and evolving nature of the situation in France made it a necessary and common-sense decision to postpone.
Discussions are continuing between World Rugby and the FFR towards finding an alternative date to host the event later in the year following the Olympic Games.
To ensure teams are as best prepared as possible for the Olympic Games, and thanks to support received from the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby is investing US$4 million into Olympic qualified unions’ sevens programmes and towards the costs of hosting high-performance preparation events.
The Emirates Invitational 7s is one event is being supported by World Rugby as part of this funding investment and will provide a valuable high-performance opportunity for the participating teams in their preparations for the Olympic rugby sevens competition, which will take place from 26-31 July 2021 at Tokyo Stadium.
The teams arrived in Dubai on 26 March and moved into bio-bubbles across the Emirate with all training and competition taking place at The Sevens Stadium in what will be a behind closed doors event. Fans can follow content from the event on @dubai7s social and digital media channels.
The men’s competition will involve Argentina*, Canada*, Chile**, France**, Japan*, Kenya*, Spain and Uganda**. While the women’s line-up includes Brazil*, Canada*, France**, Japan*, Kenya* and USA*. (* = qualified for Olympic Games, ** = qualified for final Olympic qualification event)
The event will also be used as an Olympic preparation opportunity for the match officials, appointed by World Rugby. The four-strong squad will consist of Paulo Duarte (Portugal), Francisco Gonzalez (Uruguay), Neheun Rivero (Argentina) and Damian Schneider (Argentina).
Discussions are continuing with a number of prospective hosts towards additional high-performance events prior to the Olympic Games. As confirmed previously, Monaco will host the World Rugby Sevens Repechage, the final Olympic qualification event for Tokyo, on 19-20 June, 2021. With 21 of the 24 teams already qualified, the remaining two women's and one men’s Olympic spots will be determined in Monaco.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “It is exciting to see the ‘Road to Tokyo’ taking shape and international sevens teams back in competitive action. The Olympic Games provides a huge opportunity to broaden the appeal of our sport by engaging new audiences with the athleticism, skill and drama of rugby sevens. Developing rugby sevens is a key priority for World Rugby and we are investing US$4 million funding to support sevens programmes and high-performance events during this Olympic year.
“While it is obviously disappointing for all involved to have to postpone the HSBC Paris Sevens – Marcoussis event, it is a common sense, welfare-based decision guided the FFR Medical Commission given the dynamic and evolving state of the current COVID-19 situation in France. The health, safety and wellbeing of players, fans and the wider community remains our top consideration.
“We continue to work in close collaboration with all stakeholders as we look forward to what promises to be a compact and thrilling HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 following the Olympic Games.”
The planned schedule for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 was unveiled in March and includes five women’s and four men’s rounds, with the addition of a further two potential men’s events under discussion.
Following the Olympic Games the Series will commence with a men’s event in Singapore on 29-30 October, followed by joint men’s and women’s rounds in Hong Kong on 5-7 November, Dubai on 3-4 December and an exciting climax in Cape Town on 10-12 December.
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 HSBC Singapore Sevens in October and further updates to the schedule will be given when available.
The health and wellbeing of players, fans and the wider community remains top priority and both World Rugby and the host organisations will work closely with the relevant national governments and health agencies to ensure the safe and secure delivery of the events.