On 9 September, the 40 best men’s and women’s international teams will take to the field in Cape Town determined to leave their mark on Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022.
New Zealand head to South Africa as defending champions in both the men’s and women’s tournaments after the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens made history in San Francisco four years ago.
Both Kiwi teams will have to be at their best if they are to retain their crowns again, though, with double men’s Olympic champions Fiji, women’s Rio gold medallists Australia and hosts South Africa among those keen to end their respective reigns.
With only two weeks to go until RWC Sevens 2022 kicks off at Cape Town Stadium, we give you the lowdown on the showpiece tournament and its history.
WHERE IS RWC SEVENS 2022 BEING PLAYED?
The iconic Cape Town Stadium will be the host venue for RWC Sevens 2022. Constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it is the home of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens and has attracted record-breaking crowds to the event.
Cape Town Stadium also hosted all three tests – and two tour matches – during the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021. The Springboks won the series 2-1.
In February 2020, the stadium welcomed a Guinness World Record crowd for an exhibition tennis match of 51,954 as Roger Feder and Rafael Nadal took part in the Match in Africa.
HOW MANY TEAMS HAVE QUALIFIED?
Twelve teams – four women’s and eight men’s – pre-qualified for RWC Sevens 2022 thanks to their performance at the previous tournament in San Francisco.
New Zealand, France, Australia and the USA booked their place in Cape Town by reaching the women’s semi-finals at RWC Sevens 2018. They will be joined in September by hosts South Africa, who were 14th four years ago.
A further 11 women’s teams have made sure of their place at RWC Sevens 2022 through regional qualifying. Those are Japan, China, Fiji, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Madagascar, England, Ireland, Poland and Spain.
Meanwhile, men’s RWC Sevens 2018 quarter-finalists New Zealand, England, South Africa, Fiji, Argentina, the USA, France and Scotland guaranteed their place in the draw.
The identity of the 16 men’s regional qualifiers is now known. Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, Jamaica, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Wales secured their place at this year’s showpiece tournament.
WHAT IS THE RWC SEVENS 2022 COMPETITION FORMAT?
Like in San Francisco four years ago, both the men’s and women’s tournament will operate an innovative ‘winner-takes-all’ knockout format.
The 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams heading to Cape Town have been seeded based on points accrued across the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 and 2022.
Those men’s teams ranked from ninth to 24th will take part in a pre-round of 16, with the winners of those ties going on to play the top eight seeds in the round of 16.
RWC Sevens 2022 will get underway at 08:45 local time (GMT+2) on 9 September when ninth seeds Ireland take on Portugal for a chance to play England in the round of 16.
Canada will then face Zimbabwe, with the winner playing France, before Samoa face Uganda for the chance to play the USA and Scotland take on Jamaica with a round-of-16 match against defending champions New Zealand the prize.
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Kenya 7s have been drawn to play Tonga, for a chance to face Argentina, before Wales and Korea meet for the right to take on Australia in the round of 16. Hong Kong will then play Uruguay with the winner facing Fiji before Germany play Chile for the right to face South Africa in the final match of day one.
The women’s tournament will kick-off at 12.11 local time (GMT+2) when reigning Series champions and top seeds, Australia face Madagascar. USA will then take on Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens champions Poland, before Canada play China and Fiji take on Japan.
Ireland will then play Brazil, while England have been drawn to face Spain. New Zealand will play Colombia at 17:37 local time before the women’s round of 16 concludes when France take on hosts South Africa.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON DAYS TWO AND THREE?
Day two begins at 08:15 local time (GMT+2) with the men’s Bowl quarter-finals, before the men’s and women’s Challenge quarter-finals take place.
The women’s and men’s Championship quarter-finals will get underway at 19:07 local time.
The Bowl and Challenge competitions will be concluded at the beginning of day three, while the Championship Cup fifth-place semi-finals will get underway at 10:18 local time.
At 12:07 the first women’s Championship semi-final will kick-off followed by the first men’s Championship semi-final.
The women’s and men’s Championship Bronze finals will be held from 19:01 local time, with the women’s match taking place first.
Just over an hour later, at 20:17 local time (GMT+2) the women’s Championship final will kick-off, followed by the men’s Championship final at 20:54 local time.
WHERE CAN I BUY TICKETS?
Tickets for RWC Sevens 2022 went on sale on Monday, 28 February via Ticketmaster, priced between R150 ($9.90 / €8.65 / £7.30) and R1,750 ($115 / €100 / £85) and are selling fast.
In order to make sure that you can access Cape Town Stadium all match tickets must only be purchased at https://www.rwcsevens.com/tickets. There is a ticket limit of 10 per person, per day.
WHEN AND WHERE WAS THE FIRST RWC SEVENS HELD?
The inaugural RWC Sevens featured 24 men’s teams and was played at Murrayfield in Edinburgh between 16-18 April, 1993.
Fiji and Latvia contested the first ever RWC Sevens match as Filimoni Seru scored a hat-trick and Waisale Serevi added 17 points in a 42-0 win for the Pacific Islanders.
The Fijians, however, were beaten in the semi-finals by England, who went on to lift the Melrose Cup following a 21-17 defeat of Australia in the final.
England’s tournament squad contained future Rugby World Cup 2003 winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson, the former scoring one of his side’s three tries in the final.
Andrew Harriman, the England captain, finished the tournament as top try-scorer with 12 in 10 matches, while Seru, Brian Lima and Joost van der Westhuizen each scored nine.
Women competed at RWC Sevens for the first time at the 2009 tournament in Dubai. Australia pipped rivals New Zealand to the title, as Shelly Matcham’s try in extra-time of the final sealed a 15-10 win.
WHO WINS IT?
New Zealand is the most successful nation in both the men’s and the women’s tournaments.
Having finished seventh and third at the first two events, the All Blacks Sevens lifted the Melrose Cup for the first time in Argentina in 2001.
They were beaten finalists in Hong Kong four years later and then won back-to-back RWC Sevens in Moscow in 2013 and San Francisco five years later.
Fiji are one men’s title behind New Zealand on two, having won both RWC Sevens that have been held in Hong Kong, in 1997 and 2005. England and Wales have one title apiece.
The Black Ferns Sevens recovered from defeat to Australia in the RWC Sevens 2009 final to win the next two tournaments, in 2013 and 2018.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2018?
No team had ever retained the RWC Sevens title, either men’s or women’s, but that changed in San Francisco as New Zealand won both for the second tournament running.
RWC Sevens 2018 took the game to the west coast of the USA, where more than 100,000 fans flocked to AT&T Park, many of them watching rugby for the very first time.
They were treated to a thrilling weekend as the restructured straight knockout competition ensured that every match counted.
For the second men’s RWC Sevens running England and New Zealand were the two teams left standing in the final, and it was the All Blacks Sevens who repeated their victory of five years previously to secure the Melrose Cup for a third time.
Sione Molia scored twice in the showpiece match before Joe Ravouvou, Akuila Rokolisoa and Trael Joass all crossed the whitewash to confirm a 33-12 win.
By the time New Zealand’s men had beaten England, though, the Black Ferns Sevens had already become the first team to successfully defend the RWC Sevens title.
Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick in the women’s final, while Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong also touched down, as France were beaten 29-0.
WHO WERE THE TOP TRY-SCORERS AND POINT-SCORERS IN 2018?
The three tries Michaela Blyde scored in the women’s RWC Sevens 2018 final against France took her tally for the tournament to nine, more than any other player. It also meant she ended the competition as its top scorer, with 45 points.
USA speedster Naya Tapper scored seven tries, while Australia’s Evania Pelite and Blyde’s team-mate Portia Woodman both crossed the whitewash six times.
Joe Ravouvou, who scored in the men’s final, notched six tries as the All Blacks Sevens won the title campaign, as did South Africa’s Siviwe Soyizwapi.
Papua New Guinea’s Emmanuel Guise, meanwhile, ended the weekend as the men’s tournament’s top scorer, having notched 37 points via three tries and 11 conversions.
WHO ARE THE ALL-TIME RWC SEVENS TOP POINTS AND TRY SCORERS?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given he played more RWC Sevens matches than any other player, World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Waisale Serevi is the tournament’s all-time top-scorer.
Serevi played 31 matches across four RWC Sevens, 12 more than countryman Marika Vunibaka, who appeared at three tournaments.
‘King of Sevens’ Serevi scored 297 points at the tournament, 95 of which came via tries. Vunibaka is all-time leading RWC Sevens try-scorer having touched down 23 times in his 19 appearances.
Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman is both the all-time leading women’s points and try-scorer having crossed the whitewash an incredible 18 times in just 10 RWC Sevens appearances.
Woodman has competed at two RWC Sevens, in Moscow and San Francisco and won them both, scoring tries in each final.