Due to the restrictions currently in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and with positive developments in the fight against the disease beginning to emerge around the globe, the collective decision has been taken by World Rugby to move the scheduling of the Series events in Singapore and Hong Kong from initially proposed dates in April, to 29-30 October and 5-7 November 2021 respectively, with Hong Kong acting as the Series finale.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed in coordination with the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) that two women’s events of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be played over consecutive weekends at the national rugby centre in Marcoussis on 15-16 and 22-23 May 2021.
A further update on contingency schedule for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 will be provided early in the new year, with a return to a full competition schedule anticipated for the 2022 edition.
It has also been decided that the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, launched in February 2020 to boost rugby sevens’ development across the globe and provide a pathway for promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, will take place again in late 2021 involving the best regional teams that are not core Series teams striving to claim promotion to the Series.
Japan was awarded the inaugural men’s Challenger Series title as they topped the rankings after the two completed events, claiming gold and bronze in Chile and Uruguay. Japan was promoted and will join the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 as the 16th core team.
The inaugural women's Challenger Series event scheduled to take place in March 2020 in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was unable to take place due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore 2021 will represent the first women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Olympic Games represent the greatest single opportunity for the growth of rugby sevens around the globe and we are excited by the opportunity to build on the outstanding success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. Following the sport’s thrilling introduction at the Rio 2016 Games, we are preparing for rugby sevens to once again be a star attraction at the Olympics in Tokyo, inspiring millions of new fans across Asia and around the world and we are delighted to confirm Monaco as host of the World Rugby Sevens Repechage tournament.
“We continue to work closely together with all host organisations, unions and regions in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork to ensure we provide players, coaches and teams with the very best high-performance preparation opportunities possible on the road to Tokyo next year. This includes US$4 million of financial support for rugby sevens’ programmes within Olympic qualified unions and the provision of high-performance training and competition opportunities during the first half of 2021, beginning in Madrid in February.
“While paying close attention to the ongoing, dynamic and uniquely challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, we are continuing to work hard on the contingency planning for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 and would like to thank our commercial, broadcast and host organisation partners for their unwavering support during this unprecedented scenario. We look forward to returning to a full HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 to drive the sport forwards and build on the increased interest and awareness that will be created by the Olympic rugby sevens in 2021.”