The Sevens Stadium is set to open the crucial 2022 HSBC Sevens Series season in style. The Emirates Dubai 7s begins on November 26, with two rounds hosted in Dubai, ahead of an important season for all rugby sevens.
A ‘hotly anticipated’ HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 awaits fans and teams involved, with the pools and match schedule announced for the Emirates Dubai 7s tournament. Sides have been acclimatizing in the Emirate for days, with temperatures often above the December average of 26 °C (79 °F), with high humidity. So with dual tournaments over the next fortnight, sides who prepare best and can utilize squad depth, should perform well.
Emirates Dubai 7s set to open crucial 2022 season in style
The 12 team men’s competition will follow the Olympic format with three pools of four teams each, while the 10 team women’s event sees the teams divided into two pools of five.
In the men’s event Pool A includes Fiji, fresh from retaining their Olympic title in Tokyo, together with Australia, Canada, and France.
Pool B sees Olympic bronze medallists Argentina play Kenya, Spain, and the United States of America (USA). Kenya will arrive in Dubai on good form after reaching the medal podium in both 2021 Series events, with silver in Vancouver and bronze in Edmonton. USA was the beaten finalist in Dubai in 2019 – a breakthrough year for the Eagles, when they finished the Series as runners-up.
In Pool C the 2021 Series Champions, the South African Blitzboks who will take on Ireland, Great Britain, and Japan; who were promoted as HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series champions in 2020. South Africa will be in a confident mood following their perfect win record during the HSBC Canada Sevens events that comprised the abridged 2021 season.
In the women’s event Pool A sees Olympic silver medallists France face Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Australia, who were Series runners-up in 2020. The USA, Brazil, and Spain complete the line-up.
Pool B includes Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists Fijiana, who will encounter Canada, along with Great Britain, Ireland, and Russia. Great Britain bounced back from the disappointment of finishing fourth at the Olympics, to win the pair of women’s ‘fast four’ events in Canada in September.
— Emirates Dubai 7s (@Dubai7s) November 2, 2021
New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams, who won the respective Series titles in 2020, and Samoa’s men’s team are unable to participate in Dubai due to the challenges of the Covid-19 travel logistics. The All Blacks Sevens have begun pre-season training, though they will not compete in the first two tournaments in Dubai but, will re-join the World Series in 2022.
Following this pair of combined men’s and women’s events at the Emirates Dubai 7s, the Series will move on to Europe as Spain plays host for the first time with combined men’s and women’s events in Malaga and Seville on January 21-23 and 28-30 respectively. The men’s Series continues with North American rounds in Vancouver on February 26-27, and Los Angeles on March 5-6, followed by Singapore on April 9-10.
Which side will ride highest at Sevens Stadium?
Specifically, which sides will perform to the highest standards that fans expect of the Sevens Series? So in the women’s draw, Fijiana are the darlings of the game, making huge strides over the last cycle between Rugby World Cup Seven’s tournaments. And while heavyweights like Canada, Australia, and the USA are guaranteed to have put in the hard work needed to play pool games and then knockout games with the same energy.
That is a factor across both draws, where one or two strong games will only take you so far. With the omission of New Zealand, it gives other sides a greater opportunity, so Russia may well be the one women’s team to watch out for.
Over in the men’s contest, again, your regular competitors will hold their own. Yet Ireland has been on the rise. If they can hold out against either South Africa or Great Britain in Pool C, then they could reach the knockout games. From there, the men in green will accept the challenge – if their fitness holds them up against others who stand in their way.
Australia too has a point to prove here. Thoroughly outclassed in Tokyo, that bitter taste should still be on the player’s lips, so motivation to repair the damage to the Aussie men’s pride. Tim Walsh has had to bring in some new blood, with a raft of retirements in both the men’s and women’s Aussie 7s groups. But that might be the fresh input that might just regenerate the Australian side’s prospects.
Yet in the Sevens game, a minute can see many teams score two tries. So over the entire seven-minute halves, every player needs to have full attention on both defence and attack. While basic, it is sometimes the little things done well, that can help sides reach their goals. At the beginning of a crucial calendar year – with the 2022 Series followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on July 29-31, before the pinnacle event, the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in Cape Town on September 9-11.
Mind you, not all teams have been able to secure qualification – with the Pandemic ruining many planned tournaments – lookout for many regional qualifiers, to determine the final draw in Cape Town. Many of the competing sides at the two Emirates Dubai 7s tournaments, will leave with more goals to reach in 2022.
Emirates Dubai 7s – beginning Friday, November 26. The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
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