World Sevens returns without NZ, Aus as hosts

The 2022 World Rugby Sevens Series will kickoff with a pair of men’s and women’s rounds in Dubai starting November, while Hong Kong returns as a stop, the global body said on Tuesday as the schedule was announced.

Sydney, Australia and Hamilton, New Zealand will not host the series next year due to logistical challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, World Rugby added.

Instead, Spain will play host for the first time with men’s and women’s events scheduled in Malaga and Sevilla from Jan. 21-23 and Jan. 28-30.

The city of Toulouse in France will also welcome teams in May next year.

The series will have 10 men’s and seven women’s rounds over six months. The first round in Dubai will be behind closed doors from Nov. 26-27 followed by another on Dec. 3-4 with fans in attendance at the Sevens Stadium.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure we can announce a full Series schedule today,” World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said in a statement.

“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.”

The men’s series will also have a North American round in Vancouver (Feb. 26-27) and Los Angeles (March 5-6) before moving to Asia, where Hong Kong will host a men’s and women’s event (April 1-3) after a gap of two years.

That will be followed by a men’s event in Singapore (April 9-10).

“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,” Gilpin said.