Rugby sevens is set for a triumphant return to centre stage in just 70 days time at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai with Olympic gold medallists and defending series champions Fiji the team to beat.
A hit with audiences around the world during its action-packed debut in Rio last month, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is set to reignite the passion of the millions of new global fans when the highly anticipated first round kicks off on 1 December.
The draw for round one of the men’s series took place live on World Rugby Sevens’ Facebook channel on Thursday and it looks set to be a thriller, with the announcement of some intriguing match-ups at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens. The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series schedule will be announced in due course.
POOL A: FIJI, ARGENTINA, CANADA, WALES
Olympic gold medal winners and 2015-16 series champions Fiji will look to defend their Dubai title in Pool A this year. The Pacific Islanders will enter the competition with a new head coach after Ben Ryan’s decision to bow out after Rio, but they will be hot favourites to come away with silverware following back-to-back series wins.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s head coach Santiago Gomez Cora will be hoping to build on their fifth place finish on the 2015-16 series with a strong opening performance in Dubai. Wales and Canada, slow starters in Dubai last year with a Shield win and Bowl semi-final respectively, will be targeting the opener as a kick starter to their campaign.
POOL B: SOUTH AFRICA, USA, SCOTLAND, 16TH TEAM
Olympics bronze medallists, series runners-up in 2015-16 and Plate winners in Dubai last year, South Africa will have plenty of motivation heading into the opening round of the series. USA will also be keen to improve on their third place finish in Dubai last December, a tournament they ended in dramatic fashion after beating New Zealand with a last second drop goal. Scotland, winners of their first ever tournament back in May when they beat South Africa at the London Sevens, are a force to be reckoned with in Dubai, especially now that they have tasted victory. An invitational 16th team will be added at a later date.
POOL C: NEW ZEALAND, ENGLAND, SAMOA, RUSSIA
With Gordon Tietjens no longer at the helm, New Zealand will have a new look in Dubai, and off the back of a disappointing Olympics campaign, motivation will not be in short supply. They are joined by England, a team containing Olympic silver medalists after Team GB’s success in Rio, and a Samoa side that showed promise last series after winning the Paris Sevens in May.
POOL D: AUSTRALIA, KENYA, FRANCE, JAPAN
Losing out by one try to South Africa in the Plate final in Dubai last year will be front of mind for Australia, while Kenya will be hoping to replicate their winning form shown last year in Singapore. France won the Bowl in Dubai last year but overall would have been disappointed with their 11th place finish in the series, despite their two third place finishes in Cape Town and Paris. Japan, replacing Portugal as a core team for the 2016-17 series, join the circuit having just missed out on a medal at the Olympics. Expect big performances from the newcomers to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
HSBC WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES 2016-17:
Dubai – 2-3 December
Cape Town – 10-11 December
Wellington – 28-29 January
Sydney – 4-5 February
Las Vegas – 3-5 March
Vancouver – 11-12 March
Hong Kong – 7-9 April
Singapore – 15-16 April
Paris – 13-14 May
London – 20-21 May
DUBAI SEVENS TICKETING INFORMATION:
- Thursday – FREE ADMISSION
- Friday, 2 December – in advance AED300, on the day AED400
- Saturday, 3 December – in advance AED300, on the day AED400
- Season tickets (Friday and Saturday) – in advance AED500, on the day AED600
- Children under 12 admitted free
- Special reserved seating and hospitality packages are available, visit: www.dubairugby7s.com
- Tickets are available with Skywards Miles – www.emirates.com/skywards
Source & Photo Credit: World Rugby