As the clock winds down to the grand opening of the Commonwealth Games 2022, the ever-growing sport of Rugby Sevens will be expecting to light up the stadium with some of the world’s best teams scheduled to take part in Birmingham. A huge crowd will turn up just to see the fireworks blazing as 7s players take the field and showcase their talents.
World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “Following the recent revealing of the pools, the announcement of the match schedule is an incredibly exciting moment for players, teams and fans alike as the final preparations are put in place ahead of what promises to be truly outstanding Commonwealth Games competitions.”
Conveniently, some of the best teams of the World Rugby Sevens Series come under the Commonwealth banner and it will be a spectacle as these teams lock horns once more in Birmingham. It is also noteworthy that most of them are teams from the Pacific region.
Matt Kidson, Director of Sport for Birmingham 2022 said: “The very best rugby sevens teams are going to be competing at Birmingham 2022 so it will be a really special tournament.”
“What’s great about the group stages is that when you come to a sessions you see every single team compete – so you’ll see eight men’s matches and four women’s matches, making rugby sevens one of the best value tickets at Birmingham 2022”, added Kidson.
So returning to the competition are the defending gold medallists for both men and women, New Zealand. You may remember the remarkable double gold medal celebration in their last appearance back in Gold Coast 2018.
And who could forget about the women’s final between New Zealand and Australia. The scintillating game went right down to the wire where a breathtaking long-range try by veteran playmaker Kelly Brazier in extra-time clinched the win for the New Zealand women – that was an unforgettable moment in rugby 7s history.
The New Zealand men’s 7s team have won each Commonwealth Games 7s title since its inclusion back in Kuala Lumpur 1998. They have a long successful history at the Commonwealth Games– and that is one record New Zealand will look to maintain in Birmingham.
Next up we have Australia, where the women’s 7s team is the pride of Australia 7s rugby. Not only are they former Olympic gold medallists from Rio but they are the current World Rugby Sevens Series champions 2021 – 2022 season. Inspirational captain Charlotte Caslick is the star of the team and will look to lead her side to something special again in Birmingham. The men’s team are slowly showing their potential but we can never count out the Aussie men in rugby.
South Africa is also renowned throughout the 7s circuit and will be a top medal contender when competition starts. Also known as the Blitzbokkes, the men’s 7s team are currently leading the World Sevens Series 2022 points table and will mostly likely take home the series title. Birmingham should be another testing ground for South Africa to showcase how good they are. The women’s team are still developing – give them a few more years then we will see their true potential.
Canada is another strong country in Rugby 7s. Both the men and women’s team have regularly participated in World Sevens Series. Perhaps the women’s team gets more recognition having won an Olympic bronze medal back in Rio 2016.
Kenya is also part of the draws. Known for their physicality and power, the Kenyans will look to impose their size advantage over their opponents – a tactic that will take a whole lot of talent and skill to be able to overcome.
Also making a comeback is the island nation of Samoa. Like their Kenyan counterparts, Samoa typically revolves their game plan around speed and power. It is never an easy task playing against the Samoans – one must be ready to endure physical pain and suffering – because the Samoans will be running at their opponents all day. They even have Brian Lima as their head coach; a man renowned in World Rugby as the Chiropractor because of how hard he tackles!
Scotland, Wales and England are also in the mix in Birmingham, proudly flying their nations’ flags individually. All 3 countries are also regulars in the World Sevens Series, promising to add to the fantastic atmosphere of what a 7s tournament can offer.
Lastly, we have the island nation of Fiji. Although considered as the Sevens Heaven of the sport because of how well they play, and having won Olympic gold 2 times – Fiji has never been able to clinch gold in the Commonwealth Games. Who knows, maybe this time things will work well for the Fijians.
Also keep a look out for the Fijiana team. Although not entirely at the same level of accreditation as the men’s team, the Fijianas have been showcasing just how good they can be – especially having won Olympic bronze back in Tokyo. The future looks promising for the Fijian women’s rugby team.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumount says, “Sevens is a fast flowing, high octane version of rugby which is continuing to grow and thrill fans around the world with it’s dynamic, drama-filled action on the pitch, and fun-filled festival atmosphere in the stands. Don’t miss the chance to see these incredible athletes in action,”
The tournament kicks off on 29 July, when host nation England takes on Samoa in the men’s tournament and Sri Lanka in the women’s competition.