7s game needs 2022 HSBC Sevens Series success in ‘crammed’ calendar year

7s game needs 2022 HSBC Sevens Series success

The success of the 2022 HSBC Sevens Series is definitely more crucial this season. For many more reasons than can be recalled in a bullet point presentation, yet, for the upcoming dates of this ‘crammed’ calendar year, there is so much to gain and much to lose, with the success of the game is hinged on 2022.

Looking to capitalize on the highly successful Olympic Games, and with the unsettled 2021 season behind them, organizers wish to push forward with more high-intensity rugby sevens action all across the globe. Three new host cities announced are Malaga and Seville in Spain, with Toulouse in France ready to welcome teams over the upcoming six months.

A vital calendar with this World Series opening the competition, followed by the Commonwealth Games before a Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament will settle who are the World Champions of the men’s and women’s circle.

7s game needs 2022 HSBC Sevens Series to be success

Coming off the Olympic Games is the biggest security factor that World Rugby has. Providing their glowing statistics on video views and social media hits is one thing, however, with none of the crowd enthusiasm with which the rugby sevens game was built on, 2021 was still somewhat of a drawback. Gold medals to New Zealand notwithstanding, it lacked the emotion rugby sevens is all too familiar for. Although, the final two weekends of the 2021 ‘shortened’ season were at least a better reflection of what fans might look ahead to this coming season.

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The Sevens Stadium in Dubai yet again begins player’s 2022 HSBC Sevens Series in late November. The regular starting point on the sides’ annual journey may not host every one of the participating teams; which might usually become an issue in regards to points and final seedings for 2023. Though World Rugby is taking a fair grasp of these complications (relating to the global pandemics’ continued influence) and sides who might not be able to field teams if the conditions do not allow).

To assist, a unique system has been introduced to mitigate the risk of some teams not being able to participate in all events and to determine Series rankings and decide relegation in 2022. And this new season will need some adaptability to be incorporated into it, as the ‘traveling circus’ that is the World Series is not [likely] to operate without more mid-season changes to both participation and to location/logistics [where and when it applies].

While not compromised, trying to retain the momentum of the World Series spectator attendance in 2019, a new schedule was released last week with both a slimmed-down number of men’s and women’s teams, as well as a reduced schedule that both reflects upcoming events like the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens event, to be hosted in South Africa.

That will be the end goal for all competing sides. A World Cup in front of (hopefully) a packed stadium.

New European cities bring fresh input for 2022

Capetown would usually follow Dubai, so two solid weekends will provide visiting fans with a great entree before the series returns to Europe as Spain plays host for the first time. There a combined men’s and women’s event will be played in Malaga and Seville on January 21-23 and 28-30, respectively. The new venues in Spain temporarily replace traditional Series hosts Sydney, and Hamilton, who were unable to host in 2022 due to the logistical challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in their region.

North America then provides host to the men – Vancouver and Los Angeles – before the welcome return of Hong Kong for both men and women. The mecca of sevens, that will be followed by Singapore [providing all health and player welfare conditions can be met]. The women will then visit Canada before both men’s and women’s teams travel to a new series venue in Toulouse, France, on May 20-22 where the women’s Series champions will be crowned.

The men’s Series concludes with the final event in London on May 28-29 to close out this season’s HSBC calendar.

Alan Gilpin declared “A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure we can announce a full Series schedule today and we thank HSBC, the host organizations, unions, commercial and broadcast partners for their unwavering support and spirit of collaboration as we navigate the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic together.

“We now look ahead to the return of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at full throttle ahead of what promises to be a very busy and exciting year for sevens with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town following the 2022 HSBC Sevens Series”.

NB: core teams named, with Team GB amendment in 2022

There are also changes with the competing teams. Japan join the men’s Series as a core team following their promotion as HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series champions in 2020. Of note; Great Britain will compete in the opening two rounds of the Series 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.

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. Each will want to entertain ambitions of dethroning men’s title holders South Africa and the All Blacks Sevens; Olympic Gold medalists.

11 core women’s teams after the Dubai events are Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Fijiana, 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, and Olympic Champions in Tokyo.

While everyone targets the highest form sides, it might be the unknowns who make 2022 their own. The likes of Ireland, Samoa, Spain in the men’s draw or even Fijiana. Well respected after their brilliant performances in Tokyo, could the Fiji women repeat that stunning form over a number of tournaments, to disrupt the acknowledged hierarchy?

That is only one of many questions and theories of how the 2022 HSBC Sevens Series might play out as the new season premiers in November. The truth is that the 7s game needs the 2022 HSBC Sevens Series to be a raging success, after the brutal disruption caused by Covid and lately, the Delta variant of the Coronavirus. On behalf of the majority of 7s fans, we all hope that it is.

Follow the results, analysis, and World Series form here with Last Word on Rugby and join the conversation on the LWOS boards forum site here.

 

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