Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell can’t wait for some form of normality to return when the Blitzboks start the defence of their crown in the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which kicks off in Dubai next month, building up to the Commonwealth Games in July and culminating in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in September.
The 2022 World Series will include 10 men’s and seven women’s rounds over six months, kicking off in Dubai and including new tournaments in Spain and France.
The World Series kicks off at the end of next month with Dubai hosting a behind-closed-doors round on November 26-27, 2021, followed by a second event on December 3-4 with fans in attendance at The Sevens Stadium.
The Series will then move on to Europe as Spain play host for the first time with combined men’s and women’s events in Malaga and Seville on January 21-23 and January 28-30, 2022 respectively.
The new venues in Spain temporarily replace traditional Series hosts Sydney (Australia) and Hamilton (New Zealand), who are unable to host in 2022 due to the logistical challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in their region.
The men’s teams will then travel to North America, with tournaments scheduled for Vancouver on February 26-27 and Los Angeles on March 5-6, before moving to Asia where Hong Kong returns to host a combined men’s and women’s event on April 1-3, followed by a men’s event in Singapore on April 9-10.
A standalone women’s event will take place in Langford (Canada) on April 30-May 1 before both men’s and women’s teams travel to a new venue in Toulouse (France), on May 20-22 where the women’s champions will be crowned. The men’s series concludes with the final event in London on May 28-29.
The Blitzboks will enter the 2022 World Series as defending champions after claiming the 2021 title in Canada in September.
“We’re very excited to see a full World Series return to the calendar,” said Powell. “We also realise the reality of the times we’re living in and know that it’s possible that some events may be changed or cancelled closer to the time, but for now it’s nice to see the planning in place for a full season.
“It’s also great to have a new country on the circuit with the two planned tournaments in Spain. They’ve also done well on the circuit and it’s a country that tries hard to grow the game, so it will be good to play in Malaga and Seville.”
Powell said the two recent tournaments in Canada, where the Blitzboks were crowned champions in Vancouver and Edmonton last month, showed the players’ hunger to play again.
“Hopefully the Springbok Sevens team can build on that excitement and have a good 2022 World Series,” he added.
After the World Series, the focus will shift to two standalone tournaments – the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (England) on 29-31 July, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town on September 9-11.
In other news, World Rugby announced that Japan will join the men’s series as a core team following their promotion as HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series champions in 2020.
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 (England, Scotland and Wales) for the remainder of the 2022 World Series.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Following an outstandingly competitive and highly impactful Olympic Games competition it is fantastic to announce a full schedule for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 today.
“Alongside popular and traditional rugby sevens venues it will be exciting to take the Series to new venues in Spain and France as the game continues to expand and captivate new audiences around the world with its fast, skilful and thrilling format. Rugby sevens is a key driver of global growth for our sport, particularly in emerging nations, and it firmly remains a top priority for our organisation.
“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 organisations, 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 Series.“As ever, the health and welfare of players, fans and wider society continues to be our primary concern and we will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure the safe delivery of the Series.” – SuperSport