No Antoine Dupont but Dubai still set to launch new era for sevens

Fewer vowels and four fewer teams as rebranded HSBC SVNS series hopes to promote extra drama and jeopardy

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Antoine Dupont, rugby union's world player of the year in 2021, is about to put XVs on hold and switch to sevens.

Unfortunately, it won’t be soon enough for him to appear at the Emirates Dubai Sevens.

After his bid for glory in a home World Cup faltered at the quarter-final stage last month, the France scrum-half is eyeing another major event on home soil.

He is set to join Les Bleus on the sevens series from January onwards, as part of their push for gold at the Paris Olympics in the summer of 2024.

Even if one of the world’s leading players will be absent, fans at The Sevens will still be witness to something entirely new.

World series revamp

Dubai has become established as the first leg of the World Sevens Series down the years. This time around it is the first port of call for a newly remodelled series format.

As well as fewer vowels, the rebranded HSBC SVNS series will have fewer teams. In the past, there have been four groups of four teams at men’s World Series events.

Now there will be 12 teams in each of the men’s and women’s tournaments, divided into three groups of four.

It is said to be part of the bid “to drive equality and progress”. Each of the male and female teams will receive equal participation fees.

The series will also visit two new cities, Perth and Madrid, with the latter hosting its grand final.

New format

World Rugby say the new format will provide more drama and jeopardy.

The top eight placed teams, based on cumulative series points, at the conclusion of the penultimate tournament in Singapore will compete in winner-takes-all final leg in Madrid.

The competition in the Spanish capital will also feature a relegation play-off competition where teams ranked ninth to 12th will join the top four teams from the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.

The top four placed teams of this play-off will secure their place on next year's series.

More Dubais, please

In promoting the new series, the organisers have said the tournaments will be all about “summer vibes” and “festival feels”.

“Sun-soaked days and unique experiences as rugby, music, food, and well-being combine to attract a new generation of audiences,” the press release says.

“There will also be a range of competitive and social sports for all at SVNS festivals, from non-contact rugby to functional fitness. Every event will deliver something unique.”

So basically the way Dubai has always done it, then. Aside from all the various rugby tournaments, there will be cricket, netball, crossfit and padel also going on.

HSBC SVNS Dubai pools

Men’s pools

A – New Zealand, Samoa, South Africa, Canada

B – Argentina, Australia, Ireland, Spain

C – Fiji, France, Great Britain, United States

Women’s pools

A – New Zealand, Fiji, Great Britain, South Africa

B – Australia, Argentina, Japan, Brazil

C – United States, France, Canada, Spain

Updated: November 28, 2023, 5:43 AM