England continue to host HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series finale

Governing body confirms schedule for 10-round 2015/16 series as HSBC sign up as title sponsor for four more years

The Sport Review staff
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Sevens players gather in Paris for the HSBC announcement Photo: Isabelle Picarel

England will continue to host the final round of the rebranded and expanded HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2016.

The event at Twickenham, which has drawn record crowds in recent years, will take place on the weekend of 21-22 May next year after nine globe-trotting rounds.

We took real confidence from winning the London Sevens this year and it all bodes well for the upcoming series and also the Olympics.

USA Sevens forward Zack Test

Fiji were crowned champions for the first time since 2006 in London last month and the forthcoming series will serve as a prelude to the inaugural rugby sevens event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro from 6-11 August.

On the back of exciting participation, spectator, broadcast and commercial growth, the 2015/16 series expands to 10 rounds and will have an added bonus of seeing world class 15s players move across to sevens in a bid to secure eligibility for the Olympics.

New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Argentina are among the nations to have already qualified for the Olympics and are keen to have their best players involved.

As well as announcing the schedule for the 2015/16 series, World Rugby also confirmed that HSBC had agreed a new four-year deal to remain as title sponsor of the men’s event.

The global banking giant will also become the first title sponsor of the women’s sevens series and World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset paid tribute to HSBC for their support in growing the sport since their arrival in 2009.

“Rugby sevens is going from strength to strength ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the men’s and women’s series have been at the heart of the global sevens success story with their winning brand of high-octane, competitive and broadcast- friendly action, global locations and festival atmosphere,” Lapasset said.

“HSBC has been central to the sevens success story and is totally aligned with our mission to attract and inspire new players and audiences.

“We are excited about this increased commitment and the certainty it provides over the next four years to grow our sport within existing and emerging rugby markets.

“We are particularly delighted that our flagship women’s series will be supported by HSBC over the next few years.

“Women’s rugby is one of the world’s fastest-growing team sports, with more than 1.5 million regularly playing and new participants being welcomed every day.

“The feats of our best female players on the series have been a source of inspiration to young players and the driving force behind ever-increasing popularity and profile.”

A stalwart of both the sevens side, USA forward Zack Test was among the players to attend a photocall for the announcement at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, and he admits that the sponsorship adds stability to the event.

But he is focused on building on their Cup final win at the Marriott London Sevens as they look to continue their rise in the series ahead of the Olympics.

Test said: “It is great for the players to know that a strong and committed sponsor is in place for the series.

“HSBC have been great supporters of rugby for a long time now and they really give a stability and certainty to the tournament.

“From USA’s point of view, we are in a great place at the moment.

“We took real confidence from winning the London Sevens this year and it all bodes well for the upcoming series and also the Olympics.

“A year ago, people were wondering if we would even qualify but now we will be going to Rio looking for medals.

“We are the defending Olympic champions so we’re going there aiming to win.”

Following a competitive tender process to host for the next four years, the 2015/16 series opens at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium on Friday 4 December before moving to the 55,000-capacity Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town a week later, which succeeds the Port Elizabeth event.

Rounds three and four in January and February see regular hosts Wellington joined by a new event at the Sydney Football Stadium, taking over from the Gold Coast, which used to host the opening round.

We are excited about this increased commitment and the certainty it provides over the next four years to grow our sport within existing and emerging rugby markets.

Bernard Lapasset

After another break, the series enjoys a double header in North America for the first time as the ever popular Las Vegas event at the Sam Boyd Stadium on 4-6 March serves as a warm-up for the inaugural Canada event in Vancouver.

The series then heads to Asia for the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens from 8-10 April with a new event at Singapore’s National Stadium replacing the Tokyo event a week later.

The final two rounds, which have been pushed back towards the end of May, sees the series finally arrive in Europe.

A new event at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, taking over from the Glasgow Sevens, hosts the penultimate round before the finale at the home of English rugby.

While the locations and dates for the women’s series is still to be finalised France women’s sevens captain Fanny Horta admits that their game is growing and becoming more competitive ahead of the Olympics.

“This is a great day for women’s rugby and shows that women’s rugby is developing at a great pace,” Horta said.

“The standard of play in the series is going up all the time and there are more and more teams that are competitive.

“For us, winning qualification for the Olympics was huge and we will now build on that success as we get ready for the series.”

2015/16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series schedule

Round 1: Dubai: 4-5 December
Round 2: Cape Town: 12-13 December
Round 3: Wellington: 30-31 January
Round 4: Sydney: 6-7 February
Round 5: Las Vegas: 4-6 March
Round 6: Vancouver: 12-13 March
Round 7: Hong Kong: 8-10 April
Round 8: Singapore: 16-17 April
Round 9: Paris: 14-15 May
Round 10: London: 21-22 May

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