(SATSports) – The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will make its much-anticipated return in May after World Rugby released a calendar on Wednesday outlining the dates of the legs.
This season’s calendar is a condensed one owing to the disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Olympic Games due to take place in July.
“Given the unique circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic, together with the spectacle of the Olympic Games in July, World Rugby has worked closely together with partners, host organisations and participating unions to agree a compact and highly impactful Series in 2021,” World Rugby said in a statement.
In all, the men’s series has four legs while the women’s series has five legs. There are two events in the men’s series (in Canada and the UK) which are yet to be confirmed.
“Detailed discussions are continuing with London and Vancouver on the viability of hosting men’s events in the window following the Olympic Games and prior to the HSBC Singapore Sevens in October and further updates to the schedule will be given when available,” World Rugby noted.
The Series will kick off with back-to-back women’s rounds in Marcoussis, Paris, on May 15-16 and 22-23 and then break off to accommodate the Olympics, which will feature Sevens competition.
The Series will then resume on October 29-30 with a men’s event in Singapore followed by combined men’s and women’s events in Hong Kong on November 5-7 and Dubai on November 3-4.
The Series will then conclude on December 10-12 with combined men’s and women’s event in Cape Town, South Africa.
World Rugby also announced some changes to both the men’s and women’s Series. Firstly, Japan will join the men’s Series as a core team having been promoted from the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series held last year.
Both Series will see the England, Scotland and Wales teams merge to compete as ‘GB Sevens’ in this Olympic year following an agreement.
With the merger creating two additional invitational places for teams to participate in the men’s Series this year, World Rugby said two such teams will be announced in due course.
World Rugby pledged to cooperate with the relevant national governments and health agencies to ensure the safe and secure delivery of the events as the health and wellbeing of players, fans and other stakeholders remained a “top priority”.
New Zealand is the champion in both the men’s and women’s Series as the 2020 season was ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.