Not a follow-up event this year, the highly anticipated HSBC Singapore Sevens tournament opens the path toward the Greatest Prize in 7s rugby, when the leading nations meet at the National Stadium host the World Series.
Usually the lead-in or follow-up tournament to its more established neighbour, the Hong Kong 7s, yet in 2022 they hold centerstage. The next stop of the World Rugby Sevens Series [round five] Singapore continues a program of weekends over the next two months, before many of the greatest prizes are scheduled for qualified and competing, rugby sevens sides.
As stated by World Rugby, the HSBC Singapore Sevens will see all 16 men’s core teams compete for the first time in the World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 as Fiji, New Zealand, and Samoa return to action. These three nations found it the most difficult to participate with the global travel component of the World Series – all having Lockdowns in the late part of 2021/early 2022.
With conditions vastly improved, now they add to the balance of teams who competed in Dubai over two weekends, Malaga, and Seville. Rejoined by three powerhouse squads, it will further boost the upward trend in competition on a trajectory toward the greatest prizes in rugby sevens; the Commonwealth Games firstly, followed by the Rugby World Cup Sevens in late 2022.
HSBC Singapore Sevens opens the path toward Greatest Prize in 7s
2022 is not just a program of calendar steps before two pinnacle events though, there is a nine-round Sevens Series to fulfill. That will be at the forefront of teams player’s and management’s minds this weekend.
It has been a while away from the regular play of tournament football for some teams – as well as the host city. A round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was last played in Singapore in 2019, when South Africa came from 19-0 down to overcome Fiji 20-19 in the final. Now in 2022, those sides are drawn on opposite sides of the four pools, and could likely meet yet again in any probable final.
#Singapore7s is this weekend! 🙌 🇸🇬#HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/uko3BhJYko
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 4, 2022
That only represents two out of the 16 teams appearing at the HSBC Singapore Sevens, and no insult to ay team here, but they would all need to make huge improvements to come close to the standards already established by the Blitzboks. South Africa is the benchmark. And that has been [in reality] ever since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. They have been head and shoulders above the rest. Unbeaten in 32 consecutive games.
With the injection of New Zealand, their supporter base should not be too overconfident in honesty. A naturally gifted group, the reigning World Cup and multi-time World Series champions will enter with very little world-class opposition mind you. Head coach Clark Laidlaw must respect that, and it might be better to start with small steps, rather than overstep the team’s need to adapt and to look internally for experience. Unfortunately, that is where they will miss former co-captains, Tim Mikkelson and Scott Curry the most. A huge loss, and like Samoa, this weekend could just be the vital opening run before player’s hit their top speed by June and July.
It's been a long old wait, but so good to see @manusamoa7s and @AllBlacks7s back at #HSBC7s 🙌#Singapore7s pic.twitter.com/39jKu4092O
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 7, 2022
Fiji may fair a little better, as they did contest earlier rounds in Dubai although, their delayed return might also have to be repaired with some consistent play to begin. That sides’ fans will also want them to recover some of the lost places to South Africa. And no matter the unrewarded European legs, a new rule applied to the 2022 season will mean final standings can be ‘reconsidered’.
Covid-specific Series points system applies to the HSBC Sevens Series
In part, consideration was made for the event of Covid-19 interrupting the participation of any of the ‘core teams’. These are sides that placed highest in the 2019 World Series. It sadly came true, and while it will only assist in remedial calculations of the overall standings after nine full tournaments are completed, teams can ‘bank’ their best four tournament points, for their final Series ranking.
Unique, so as to respect how sides have competed over the season that they competed in. That will not reject earlier legs though, it will simply permit those who could not create the consistency of others, that they may be acknowledged for the combined efforts.
It could not really see any restored side now overtake South Africa, and it might also be used to motivate those sides who have been consistent to date. So as to retain their positions; Argentina, Australia, USA, France, and Ireland, being the leading contenders as it stands.
Singapore 2019 #photodump 📸
Who do you have winning the tournament this weekend?#HSBC7s #Singapore7s #Rugby7s@WorldRugby7s pic.twitter.com/bNCljHZxVA
— HSBC Sport (@HSBC_Sport) April 8, 2022
The HSBC Singapore Sevens will bring smiles to the 12,000 local fans in attendance. A slight return to the theatre that is the Asian leg of the World Series. And global audiences can again look to the speed and pace of rugby sevens, to reinforce gains made over the two Olympic Games, and the strong standing the game holds in the region.
2022 is a huge year for rugby sevens. World Rugby expressed it best when explaining that ‘Alongside the Series, the Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham, England in July, and following the grand finale of the Series in Los Angeles in August, all eyes will turn to Cape Town, South Africa for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 on September 9-11’.
HSBC Singapore Sevens – Saturday April 9/Sunday April 10
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images