We’re one tournament into the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 and already it has lived up to all expectations.
As we’ve come to expect from the World Series over the years, there were several edge-of-your-seat games featuring outstanding moments of skill in Dubai, and the good news is that it’s happening all over again in the same place this weekend – but this time in front of fans.
Here’s our lowdown on what lies ahead …
WHAT’S THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY?
After winning in Vancouver and Edmonton in September to take the 2021 World Series title, South Africa went into round one in Dubai last weekend on a high.
And there was no let-up from Neil Powell’s side who successfully defended their Dubai Cup title from 2020 with an emphatic 42-7 win over USA in the final.
While New Zealand weren’t able to take part due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, no one can take anything away from a Blitzboks side playing some irresistible rugby at the moment and they go into round two on the back of a record winning run of 18 matches.
In the Women’s Series, Australia put a few fallow years behind them to claim their first title since 2018.
The 2016 Olympic champions defeated Fiji 21-7 and finished the tournament unbeaten. As runners-up, Fiji collected their first World Series medal of any description.
Completing the podium line-up, Argentina pipped double Olympic champions Fiji’s new-look squad 19-12 to clinch bronze in the men’s event, while Olympic silver medallists France claimed the women’s bronze in style with a resounding 40-0 victory over Russia.
HOW MANY TOURNAMENTS ARE THERE IN 2022?
The 2022 World Series includes nine men’s and six women’s rounds over six months, some of them overlapping and others not. So, now it’s one down and eight to play in the men’s and five left in the women’s.
The calendar includes stopovers in some of the usual destinations such as Langford and London as well as three new cities.
Malaga and Seville in Spain, and Toulouse in France will welcome teams for the first time.
Round two in Dubai is on 3-4 December with fans in attendance at The Sevens Stadium this weekend.
The Series will then return to Europe with the Spanish venues temporarily replacing traditional hosts Sydney, Australia, and Hamilton, New Zealand
The men’s Series continues with North American rounds in Vancouver on 26-27 February and Los Angeles on 5-6 March before moving to Asia where Singapore stages a men’s event on 9-10 April.
A women’s standalone event will take place in Langford, Canada, on 30 April-1 May before both men’s and women’s teams travel to a new Series venue in Toulouse, France, on 20-22 May where the women’s Series champions will be crowned. The men’s Series concludes with the final event in London on 28-29 May.
NO HONG KONG?
Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the travel restrictions associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic it has been decided that the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens originally planned to take place on 1-3 April will be rescheduled to 4-6 November 2022, when it will serve as the opening event of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.
Hong Kong will host a second event in the 2023 Series six months later in its traditional April window, doubling the enjoyment of this iconic event for fans.
WHICH TEAMS ARE INVOLVED?
Japan’s men rejoined the World Series in Dubai after winning promotion as champions of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series champions in 2020 and started brightly, only narrowly losing 17-12 to Great Britain in their first game back at this level. But it was an uphill struggle thereafter with a succession of heavy losses leading up to their 22-14 defeat to Canada in the 11th-place play-off.
Great Britain will compete again in round two in Dubai, as part of the standing agreement to play the calendar year 2021, before reverting to compete as national unions for the remainder of the 2022 Series, with England, Scotland and Wales participating in the men’s Series and England in the women’s series.
In round one, Great Britain’s men finished sixth, while the women fared slightly better in coming fifth, having only lost once in five matches.
The 16 men’s core teams after the Dubai events are Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, USA and Wales.
The 11 core women’s teams after the Dubai events are Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and USA. New Zealand’s Black Ferns Sevens will be aiming to defend their title after being crowned champions in 2020.
ANY OTHER CHANGES?
With Great Britain only competing in the opening two rounds, a points system has been developed that promotes fairness for all competing teams. This recognises situations where teams may not be able to participate in any rounds owing to COVID-19.
The system sees the best seven men’s results and four women’s results for each team contribute to their final Series standings.
Two men’s teams and one women’s will be relegated from the 2022 Series, to ensure a pathway for teams to be promoted from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challengers Series.
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