Revamped Sevens World Series set to be 'game-changer' for growth of rugby

From next year, series will be held at seven venues across the world in seven months

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This weekend’s Dubai Sevens will be the last in its current format, with World Rugby announcing a new structure for the abridged code.

From next year, the Sevens World Series will comprise seven “festival-style events”, in seven venues across the world, across seven months.

The tournaments will feature the 12 leading men’s and women’s side – in line with the format now played at the Olympics.

For the men’s competition, that is down from the 16 sides - in four pools of four - who will compete at The Sevens this weekend, as has been conventional until now.

Steps have already been put in place for the contraction of the number of sides. For example, England, Scotland and Wales have been merged into one, and will now compete as Great Britain.

In a statement, World Rugby said the series has been remodelled in order to “further embrace its ‘sportainment’ DNA,” as a move “to attract a younger, more diverse and global fanbase”.

The present format of a grand-prix style series is also set to be altered, with the seventh round become a “grand finale”, in which the top eight ranked teams will compete to become series champions.

The teams ranked ninth to 12th will play against the leading four sides from the second-tier Challenger Series in a relegation play-off competition. The top four teams will secure their places in the next edition of the Series.

The four unsuccessful teams will go into regional competitions to qualify for the next Challenger Series, which comprises of 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams competing in the second level of international rugby sevens.

Men’s and women’s teams will also receive equal participation fees.

“The reimagined Sevens World Series will be a game-changer for the global growth of the game,” Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s chief executive, said.

“Research [has] demonstrated sevens plays a vital role in reaching and engaging new rugby fans, particularly in emerging rugby nations and with younger audiences.

“World Rugby is fully committed to the sustainable growth, innovation and success of rugby sevens as a highly impactful and successful Olympic sport with a bright future.”

Updated: December 01, 2022, 1:53 PM