A revised calendar has been drawn up for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the annual circuit of the short-format version of rugby union.
As a result of travel and logistical challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the popular Hong Kong Sevens will not take place as was anticipated from 5 to 7 November, but will return to the series on 1 to 3 April, 2022.
Similarly, the Paris Sevens women’s event, which was scheduled for May of this year, will not now take place in 2021.
As a result of Covid-19, the World Rugby Sevens Series has not been held since 2019-20, but men’s and women’s competitions have been held at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and the series itself returns next month with a pair of men’s events, combined with women’s fast-four tournaments in Canada, in Vancouver on 18-19 September and in Edmonton on 25-26 September.
The changes mean that five men’s and two women’s rounds will be held in the final four months of 2021.
However, on the back of the Olympics, next year is set to be a big one for sevens, with the sport to have two prominent showcases in the Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Commonwealth Games.
Alan Gilpin, the chief executive of World Rugby, said: “The inclusion of rugby sevens for the first time in the Olympic Games at Rio 2016 attracted an estimated 30 million new fans globally and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series presents us with a great opportunity to build on the positive effects of competing on the Olympic stage.
“While it is obviously very disappointing not to be able to go ahead with two of our planned Sevens Series events in Hong Kong and Paris in 2021, the decisions have been taken with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public as top priority, and following extensive consultation with the host organisations, participating unions and relevant government bodies.
“The future of rugby sevens is very bright and players, teams and fans can look ahead to a very busy and exciting year in 2022 when the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be followed by Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. Fans in Hong Kong can already mark their calendars and look forward to the return of the Sevens Series on 1-3 April 2022.”