Men’s World Rugby 7s series reduced in size

Rugby 7s captains in Dubai.

There will be an equal number of men’s and women’s teams in the World Rugby Sevens Series from December 2023 and a reimagination of the competition format, under changes adopted by the world governing body.

There are to be seven rounds from next season onwards, with the last of these being the “Grand Finale”.

The men’s competition will be cut from 16 teams to 12, matching the number in the women’s event.

Both tournaments will reward the top eight teams with a spot in the end-of-season leg to play for the men’s and women’s trophies. 

Teams ranked ninth to 12th face possible relegation, joining the top four teams from the Challenger Series in a playoff competition which will confirm four more teams for the following season’s Sevens Series.

The four unsuccessful teams will go into regional competitions to qualify for the Challenger Series.

Men’s and women’s teams are to receive equal participation fees too, which are to be increased by 70 per cent.

Citing concerns for player welfare, World Rugby has revamped the calendar too, meaning all seven tournaments for men and women are to played at the same location, but over a spread of seven months – meaning competition runs from December 2023 to June 2024.

By comparison, this season’s Sevens Series has 11 men’s tournaments as well as seven women’s tournaments spanning from November until May.

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

“Research insights have demonstrated that 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.

“We have consulted widely with a multitude of stakeholders to achieve our shared aim of making rugby more relevant and accessible to more young people, more of the time, and in doing so growing the reach of rugby while ensuring player welfare is sacrosanct and further cementing the successful positioning of rugby sevens on the Olympic sport programme.” 

The next legs of the 2022-2023 Sevens Series season are to take place in Dubai from tomorrow, followed by Cape Town from December 9 to 11.

Four men’s and women’s quota spots for Paris 2024 are to be confirmed at the conclusion of this season’s Sevens Series. Six spots in each are to come from the regional Olympic qualification tournaments, with two more from the final Olympic repechage.

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