World Rugby announces abbreviated 2021 Sevens Series schedule
Vancouver and Edmonton stops later this month on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will feature both men's and women's play, World Rugby announced Friday.
Previously the two Canadian events had only been designated as men's events as World Rugby looked to get the sevens game going again after a lengthy pandemic-prompted interruption.
But several other events have been nixed.
World Rugby had previously said six men's and four women's rounds were scheduled in the final four months of 2021. Instead, the two Canadian events will constitute a mini-season.
Previously announced 2021 stops in Singapore (Oct. 29-30) and Cape Town (Dec. 10-12) will not take place, with the governing body citing “the impacts of COVID-19.” The Hong Kong Sevens, slated for Nov. 5-7, was cancelled last month.
The 2022 season will start with back-to-back combined events in Dubai. The first, Nov. 26-27, will be held behind closed doors while the second, Dec. 3-4, will see fans in attendance at the Sevens Stadium.
The full 2022 schedule will be announced later this month with “alternative host options” being considered to replace Australia and New Zealand events in January.
Next year will also see rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (July 29-31) and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town (Sept. 9-11) following the World Series.
The pandemic prompted the World Series to shut down after the men's HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver in March 2020. A women's event in Langford, B.C., scheduled for early May that year was one of the tournaments cancelled.
Last season, the men got in six-of-10 planned tournaments and the women five of eight before the schedule ground to a halt.
The Vancouver tournament is scheduled for Sept. 18-19 while Edmonton goes Sept. 25-26. However, World Rugby said a number of core Series teams won't be able to participate due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
World Rugby said there will be no relegation from the 2021 Series and the results will not contribute towards seedings for any other future events.
“The truly global nature of the Series has made it difficult to plan with certainty in this uniquely challenging time as the ongoing and dynamic impacts and travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic continue to present a challenge to all stakeholders,” World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said in a statement. “As ever, the health and welfare of players, fans and wider society continues to be our primary concern.
“Together with the host organizers we are disappointed not to be able to deliver the planned Series events in Singapore and Cape Town this year, however we look forward to bringing the joy and spirit of rugby sevens back to both cities in 2022, meanwhile the events in Canada this month offer a unique opportunity for the teams participating to compete in a winner-takes-all pair of events in the 2021 Series.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2021.