Posted on Jul 18, 2023 at 10:16 am ET
Canada’s Phil Berna (4) is stopped by Ireland’s Harry McNulty (3) during HSBC Canada Sevens rugby action, in Vancouver, Friday, March 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver has made the cut in the scaled-down HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, rebranded as HSBC SVNS.
The revamped competition features eight events, each offering men’s and women’s games.
Last season’s Seven Series consisted of 11 men’s and seven women’s events. All the women’s competition took place in conjunction with stops on the men’s circuit.
The revamped schedule begins December 2-3 in Dubai, followed by stops in Cape Town, South Africa (December 9-10), Perth, Australia (January 26-28), Vancouver (February 23-25). , Los Angeles (March 2-3), Hong Kong (April 5-7), Singapore (May 3-5) and Madrid (May 31-June 2).
That means there will be no events in London, Sydney (Australia), Hamilton (New Zealand) and Toulouse (France), all of which hosted stops last season. Hong Kong hosted two events.
This is good news for Rugby Canada. The Canada Sevens is a cash cow for the cash-strapped governing body, as it proved in 2018 when it drew a combined 77,000 fans over two days at BC Place Stadium.
The 2023 Canada Sevens marked the eighth time the Sevens Series has come to Vancouver, but the first time the men’s and women’s full game was held simultaneously at the event.
Previously, the Canadian women’s event was held in Langford, BC. A scaled-down competition featuring both men and women was held in Vancouver during the pandemic-shortened 2021 season.
The changes are the latest for World Rugby, which has moved in recent years to combine more men’s and women’s events and even the number of teams for both.
“For the first time in rugby sevens history, all locations will be unified under the same approach, meaning the overall experience is the same and we can optimize business revenue for reinvestment, including playing our part in ensuring that Sevens is a viable professional career. for talented players and Olympians,” World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said in a statement.
The top eight teams at the end of the Singapore event will compete in a new winner-take-all grand final in Madrid, where the women’s and men’s champions will be crowned.
Madrid will also host a relegation playoff competition where teams ranked ninth through 12th will join the top four teams from the second-tier Challenger Series. The top four teams coming out of the playoffs will secure their status in the upcoming SVNS season.
The Canadian men survived a relegation battle in May, with World Rugby cutting the number of top teams for the upcoming season from 16 to 12 to match both the women’s competition and the Olympic field.
Japan, the 15th-ranked team in the standings, were relegated after the penultimate tournament in Toulouse. That left No. 12 Uruguay, No. 13 Kenya, No. 14 Canada and Tonga, winners of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, in the round-robin relegation playoff in London.
Canada dramatically defeated Kenya 12-7 in the playoff final, retaining their core team status.
The Canadian men made their World Series debut in 1999-2000 and have been a core team on the circuit since 2012-13. London marked its 190th tournament on the circuit.
Leaving the top tier of the sport would have been a blow at a time when Rugby Canada has made it easier for players to move between games of seven and fifteen to increase their depth and provide more playing opportunities. Not to mention massively increasing the degree of difficulty in qualifying for the Olympic Games.
The Canadians, bronze medalists at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finished ninth overall last season.
Both Canadian teams will participate in the Rugby Americas North Sevens Olympic qualifier next month in Langford, BC
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 18, 2023