Anyone lucky enough to witness the inaugural final of the women’s rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 will have been counting down the days to the next competition.

Back then, Olympic champions Australia and world champions New Zealand put on a spectacle as good as any in the history of rugby sevens, going toe-to-toe with each other for 25 exhilarating minutes before Kelly Brazier came up with the sudden-death matchwinner six minutes into extra-time.

That humdinger of a match continued the fine tradition of rugby sevens as one of the most exciting, must-watch sports on the Commonwealth Games schedule, with some of the superstars of the game, such as World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees Jonah Lomu, Waisale Serevi and David Campese, leaving an indelible mark on the competition.

With its fast-paced, unpredictable nature, rugby sevens has always been one of the most popular tickets in town and after a four-year-long fans will be eager to see what the 2022 competition has to offer.

WHEN AND WHERE DOES IT TAKE PLACE

The rugby sevens competition will be played between 29-31 July, at the Coventry Stadium.

The home of Wasps Rugby has become a hub for top-level rugby since the club moved to the stadium in 2014, with women’s and Under 20s Six Nations matches being held at the venue, alongside European Champions Cup semi-finals and, naturally, all of Wasps Gallagher Premiership home fixtures.

WHO’S QUALIFIED FOR BIRMINGHAM 2022?

The men’s competition comprises 16 teams, including England as hosts.

Rugby sevens heavyweights, New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa pre-qualified through their finishing positions in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series along with Australia, Canada, Scotland, Kenya, Samoa and Wales.

Tonga made it to Birmingham as Oceania qualifiers, while Sri Lanka and Malaysia will represent Asia after securing their places at the Games courtesy of their performances at the Asian Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai last November.

The last three remaining places were decided in April. A runners-up spot at the Rugby Americas North qualification tournament in Nassau was good enough for Jamaica to book their ticket, while Rugby Africa Sevens winners and hosts, Uganda and Zambia, who finished fourth, have made it through from that region. Hosts Uganda triumphed 28-0 against Zimbabwe in the final.

The women’s competition is an eight-team event with the final spot having been taken by Rugby Africa Sevens winners, South Africa.

Australia, New Zealand and Canada qualified via the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, while Fiji (Oceania), Scotland (Europe) and Sri Lanka (Asia) successfully came through the regional qualifiers.

Hosts England complete the line-up.

With Canada already present in the line-up for Birmingham 2022, there isn’t a RAN qualifier going into the women’s tournament.

WHO WINS COMMONWEALTH GOLD?

New Zealand won every single Commonwealth Games men’s rugby sevens tournament until losing in the final to South Africa at Glasgow 2014. However, they regained their title at Gold Coast 2018, with the New Zealand women’s team making it a unique double.

The Commonwealth Games gold medal is the one major medal missing from the Fiji honours board.

The double Olympic and Rugby World Cup Sevens champions and multiple former HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners have finished runners-up on three occasions, most recently in 2018, as well as picking up a bronze medal in the six previous tournaments.

THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES HONOURS BOARD

Kuala Lumpur 1998
Gold: New Zealand
Silver: Fiji
Bronze: Australia

Manchester 2002
Gold: New Zealand
Silver: Fiji
Bronze: South Africa

Melbourne 2006
Gold: New Zealand
Silver: England
Bronze: Fiji

Delhi 2010
Gold medal: New Zealand
Silver: Australia
Bronze: South Africa

Glasgow 2014
Gold: South Africa
Silver: New Zealand
Bronze: Australia

Gold Coast 2018
Men’s
Gold: New Zealand
Silver: Fiji
Bronze: England

Women’s
Gold: New Zealand
Silver: Australia
Bronze: England

ANY SHOCK RESULTS?

Asides from South Africa’s monopoly-busting win over New Zealand in 2014, upsets have been few and far between.

However, Samoa’s 12-10 quarter-final win over Australia at Manchester 2002 would fall into the shock category. Australia had won comfortably when they’d met the year before at RWC Sevens 2001 but tries from Semo Sititi and Gaolo Elisara ensured the Pacific Islanders got their revenge.

In Melbourne, inspirational captain Tevita Tu'ifua scored a hat-trick of tries as wildcard entrants Tonga shocked a South African side tipped to improve on their bronze medal of four years earlier.

MEMORABLE MILESTONES

New Zealand are just 28 points away from becoming the first men’s team to score 1,000 points at the Commonwealth Games.

The All Blacks Sevens are also the all-time top tournament try-scorers with 147 tries as well as top points scorers, but the honour of individual top try-scorer goes to Scotland’s Lee Jones with 14 tries to his name.

Newly-appointed Fiji men’s sevens head coach Ben Gollings, former England team-mate Dan Norton and South Africa's Cecil Afrika jointly hold the record for most match appearances with 16.