Canada’s men have been drawn in a pool with Olympic champion Fiji, Australia and France for the opening event of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series later this month in Dubai.
The Canadian women will play in a group with Olympic bronze medallist Fiji, Britain, Ireland and Russia.
But the New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams, who won the respective World Series titles in 2020, and the Samoan men, won’t take part in Dubai due to pandemic-related travel issues.
World Rugby has also decided to drop the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, originally planned for April 1-2, from the 2022 season. It will now take place Nov. 4-6, 2022, and serve as the 2023 season opener. Hong Kong will host a second event in the 2023 Series in its traditional April window.
The 2021 season was reduced to two September events — in Vancouver and Edmonton — with several countries unable to compete because of pandemic-related restrictions.
The Canadian men were eighth in the standings when the 2020 season was cut short after six events due to the pandemic following the Canada Sevens in Vancouver, where Canada finished third. Fiji was third in the overall standings while Australia was fourth and France sixth.
The Canadian women were third overall in the 2020 World Series standings when the season was halted after five events. Russia was sixth, Fiji seventh and Ireland 10th. While Britain did not field a team, England was eighth.
Britain will participate in the opening two rounds of the Series in Dubai, before reverting to compete as national unions for the remainder of the 2022 Series, with England, Scotland and Wales on the men’s Series and England on the women’s.
The 2022 season opens with a pair of Dubai events, for both men and women, Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 3-4. The first will be played behind closed doors, with spectators allowed for the second.
The men will play nine events in all, including a Feb. 26-27 stop in Vancouver, with the finale May 28-29 in London.
The women will take part in six tournaments, playing April 30-May 1in Langford, B.C., before wrapping up the season May 20-22 in Toulouse, France.
World Rugby says it is considering potential options for a replacement event for Hong Kong in the 2022 Series.
After Dubai, the 16 men’s core teams will be Canada, Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, the U.S. and Wales.
The 11 core women’s teams after Dubai are Canada, Australia, Brazil, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and the U.S.
Two men’s and one women’s teams will be relegated from the 2022 Series, with teams to be promoted from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
There will be a new scoring system for the 2022 Word Series due to the pandemic, with not all teams able to take part in every event. The best seven men’s results and four women’s results for each team will contribute to their final Series standings with the number of contributing results to increase if a replacement event for Hong Kong is added.
There will also be sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, July 29-31. The Rugby World Cup Sevens is set for Sept; 9-11 in Cape Town.
The Canadian men were eighth at the Tokyo Olympics in their first trip to the games. The Canadian women, bronze medallists in 2016 in Rio finished a disappointing ninth in Tokyo.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2021.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press