World Rugby today announced some changes in the men's and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, chief among these is that the organization has returned to the idea of combining men's and women's events.
The Women's Sevens World Series will be increased to eight tournaments from six, and of those eight, six will be combined with men's events.
Dubai, Cape Town, New Zealand, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Paris will host combined men’s and women’s sevens events from next season onwards as part of the next four-year World Series hosting cycle.
In the women’s series, the USA Women’s Sevens will again be hosted in Glendale, CO, and the Canada Women's Sevens will be held in Langford, BC. Both will be standalone events.
In addition, nine out of 10 host locations for the next four-year cycle of the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019-23 have also been confirmed. The outlier is the USA, with reports circulating that United World Sports has been considering moving the USA 7s from Las Vegas, this announcement adds a bit of fuel to that fire.
Nine existing men’s world series destinations – Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris – are set to feature again as part of the next four-year cycle. World Rugby said that the host location in the USA to be confirmed at a later stage in the season.
Player welfare and travel blocks continue to be an important component of the tender considerations alongside the delivery of high-performance facilities and overall ability to contribute to the key strategic growth of the series.
The Dubai Sevens, which has featured as a host venue since the inaugural series in 1999-2000 and a combined event since 2012, remains linked with Cape Town, a new combined men’s and women’s event.
Hamilton, the newest venue on the men’s series having hosted its inaugural event in 2018, becomes a new combined event for both men’s and women’s teams. Sydney and Vancouver, both newcomers to the men’s series calendar having been appointed in 2015, also retain their host venue status, with Sydney continuing as a combined event.
In Asia, seasoned world series hosts Hong Kong expands to a combined series round and will again be linked with Singapore, which remains a men’s standalone round, who earned host venue rights as part of the competition’s expansion in 2015.
London and Paris are also confirmed as the European hosts for the next four years with Paris set to again host both men’s and women’s series from next season onwards.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This is an exciting time for sevens as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is set to break new ground with more combined rounds than ever before on the circuit, as Cape Town, Hamilton and Hong Kong welcome women’s world series teams for the first time from next season.
“We are delighted to see the women’s series expand to eight rounds over the next four-year cycle, a historic move that will provide more high quality competitive international playing opportunities for women’s sevens teams, a core strand of our Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby plan.
“For the men’s series, the selected hosts represent a consistent balance of long-established and newer venues, with the five host unions who joined in 2015 retaining their host status.
“Since the men’s series’ expansion to 10 rounds in 2015, we have seen the competition become increasingly competitive on the pitch from a team perspective while also continuing to grow in popularity among global audiences. We are looking forward to seeing continued growth and evolution of the world series in each territory over the next four years.”
Jonathan Castleman, HSBC Global Head of Brand Partnerships said: “The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is in an exciting period of explosive growth and remains a constantly changing frontier full of potential. The impressive growth of the women’s game is undoubtedly one of the biggest drivers of this, with new talent emerging and more eyeballs than ever before on the women’s series. With this in mind, today’s announcement is hugely exciting for us and we look forward to continuing our role as an active partner, working alongside World Rugby and the local unions, to help rugby sevens thrive around the world for years to come.”
The USA men's and women's events will remain separate in part because the hosting rights are held by two different entities: United World Sports for the men, and USA Rugby for the women. The two combined for one event in 2017, but that was not considered a major success.
The Canada men's and women's tournaments are both hosted by Rugby Canada, but the men's event at BC Place would not be able to accommodate an additional tournament, and the Langford event for the women has been quite successful on its own.