Rugby World Cup Sevens

Rugby World Cup Sevens
Sport Rugby union sevens
Instituted 1993 (men), 2009 (women)
Number of teams 24 (men), 16 (women)
Holders  New Zealand (men)
 New Zealand (women) (2013)

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the premier stand-alone international rugby sevens competition. The event is organised by the sport's governing body, World Rugby (WR), and is contested every four years with tournaments for men's and women's national teams co-hosted at the same venues. The inaugural tournament was held in 1993 in Scotland, the birthplace of rugby sevens. The winners of the men's tournament are awarded the Melrose Cup, named after the Scottish town of Melrose where the first rugby sevens game was played.[1] The women's tournament was inaugurated at the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens held in Dubai.

New Zealand are the current men's and women's World Champions having won both tournaments in 2013. Fiji and New Zealand have won the men's tournament twice. England and Wales have won a single tournament each, while both Australia and South Africa have reached tournament finals but not secured a title.

Australia and New Zealand are the only nations to have been women's World Champions, having won the first and second Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments respectively in 2009 and 2013.

In 2009, after the inclusion of rugby sevens at the Olympic Games was announced, the International Rugby Board (IRB, now World Rugby) stated that their intention was to end the World Cup Sevens so that the Olympic Games would be the one pinnacle in a four-year cycle for rugby sevens.[2] However, following consultation, the IRB announced that the competition would be retained, and integrated into the Olympic calendar, meaning that a meaningful elite level competition would take place every two years from 2016. The World Cup will be also markedly larger in terms of team numbers than the Olympic tournament.[3] The first competition after Olympic integration is set to take place in 2018, which will entail a one-off five-year gap from the 2013 competition.


The Rugby World Cup Sevens originated with a proposal by the Scottish Rugby Union to the International Rugby Board. The inaugural tournament was held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in 1993, and has been held every four years since. Hong Kong, which had played a major role in the international development of the Sevens game, hosted the 1997 event. The final was won by Fiji over South Africa. The 2001 tournament was held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The 2005 event returned to Hong Kong.

The IRB made a submission to the International Olympic Committee in 2005 for rugby sevens to become an Olympic sport. However, the submission failed because committee members felt IRB needed to improve promotion of the women's game. To that end, the IRB implemented the first women's Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in 2009.[4] The 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens was held in Dubai during the first weekend of March 2009 and included a separate women's tournament. Cumulative attendance was 78,000.[4]

Prior to the inclusion of rugby sevens into the Olympic Games, the IRB stated that their intention would be to end the World Cup Sevens so that the Olympic Games would be the one pinnacle in a four-year cycle for Rugby Sevens.[2] The adoption of rugby sevens and golf was recommended to the full International Olympic Committee council by its executive board in August 2009.[5] The International Olympic Committee voted in 2009 for rugby sevens to become a medal sport at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.[6]

The IRB Council in 2010 awarded the hosting of the 2013 tournament to Moscow, Russia from a field of eight nations that had expressed formal interest in hosting.[7] The IRB intended that the exposure to rugby from hosting the World Cup Sevens would accelerate the growth of rugby in Russia.[7]

The IRB had said the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens – featuring 24 men's teams and 16 women's teams – would be the last one. However, following feedback from its member unions, the IRB's general assembly voted for the tournament to continue. The principal concern is that Sevens at the Olympics would accommodate only 12 teams.[8]

The IRB announced on June 12, 2013 that the Rugby World Cup Sevens would continue after 2013, with the next tournament set for 2018, and for every four years after that.[9] Following the IRB's announcement, several nations officially announced their intention to bid to host the 2018 tournament – including the United States[10] and Wales.[11]

Men's tournament

Year Host Final Semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up
1993 Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland



1997 Hong Kong
Hong Kong

South Africa

New Zealand

2001 Argentina
Mar del Plata, Argentina

New Zealand


2005 Hong Kong
Hong Kong

New Zealand


2009 United Arab Emirates
Dubai, United Arab Emirates



2013 Russia
Moscow, Russia

New Zealand


2018 United States
San Jose and San Francisco, United States

The 2001 tournament, held in Argentina, added another chapter to the legend of New Zealand's Jonah Lomu. Lomu, used sparingly in pool play, received his opportunity when New Zealand captain Eric Rush broke his leg in the last pool match. Lomu went on to score three tries in the final.

In 2005, Waisale Serevi came out of international retirement to captain and lead Fiji to their second Melrose Cup.

At the 2009 tournament in Dubai, Wales, Samoa, Argentina and Kenya combined to stun the rugby world by defeating the traditional powerhouses of New Zealand, England, South Africa and Fiji in the quarter-finals, guaranteeing a new Melrose Cup winner. Wales and Argentina met in the final, with Wales triumphing 19–12. Wales' Taliesin Selley was named player of the tournament.

The top all-time try-scorer for the Rugby World Cup Sevens has been Fijian winger Marika Vunibaka, who scored 23 tries in 3 of the Sevens World Cups he played in since his debut in 1997.

Results by nation

Team 1993 1997 2001 2005 2009 2013 Years
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Arabian Gulf 21st 1
 Argentina 9th 13th 3rd 5th 2nd 11th 6
 Australia 2nd 5th 2nd 3rd 10th 5th 6
 Canada 15th 21st 5th 18th 13th 9th 6
 Chile 17th 1
 Cook Islands 11th 13th 2
 Chinese Taipei 21st 21st 21st 3
 England 1st 5th 5th 3rd 5th 2nd 6
 Fiji 3rd 1st 3rd 1st 5th 3rd 6
 France 15th 5th 21st 5th 13th 5th 6
 Georgia 10th 11th 21st 19th 4
 Ireland 3rd 19th 19th 13th 18th 5
 Italy 17th 17th 21st 3
 Hong Kong 17th 10th 21st 21st 19th 21st 6
 Japan 13th 17th 13th 13th 21st 18th 6
 Kenya 19th 19th 3rd 4th 4
 South Korea 11th 5th 13th 21st 4
 Latvia 21st 1
 Morocco 19th 1
 Namibia 21st 21st 2
 Netherlands 21st 1
 New Zealand 7th 3rd 1st 2nd 5th 1st 6
 Philippines 21st 1
 Portugal 21st 18th 10th 11th 13th 5
 Romania 17th 13th 2
 Russia 9th 11th 17th 3
 South Africa 5th 2nd 5th 5th 5th 5th 6
 Samoa 5th 3rd 5th 9th 3rd 10th 6
 Scotland 14th 11th 5th 9th 11th 5
 Spain 10th 13th 11th 21st 4
 Tonga 7th 9th 19th 11th 13th 5
 Tunisia 13th 13th 21st 3
 Uruguay 21st 19th 19th 3
 United States 17th 18th 13th 13th 13th 13th 6
 Wales 11th 13th 11th 1st 5th 6
 Zimbabwe 21st 21st 17th 13th 4

Women's tournament

Year Host Final Semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up
2009 United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates

New Zealand

United States

South Africa
2013 Russia
Moscow, Russia

New Zealand

United States

2018 United States
San Jose and San Francisco, United States

Results by nation

Team 2009 2013 Years
 Australia 1st 5th 2
 Brazil 10th 13th 2
 Canada 6th 2nd 2
 China 9th 11th 2
 England 5th 6th 2
 Fiji 9th 1
 France 7th 11th 2
 Ireland 7th 1
 Italy 11th 1
 Japan 13th 13th 2
 Netherlands 13th 10th 2
 New Zealand 2nd 1st 2
 Russia 11th 7th 2
 South Africa 3rd 13th 2
 Spain 7th 4th 2
 Thailand 13th 1
 Tunisia 13th 1
 United States 3rd 3rd 2
 Uganda 13th 1

See also


  1. Scotland 7s players Melrose bound
  2. 1 2 RWC Sevens to be scrapped for Olympics, ESPN, 27 May 2009 Retrieved 24 February 2011
  4. 1 2 "Tietjens backs sevens Olympic bid", ESPN, (13 August 2009), Retrieved 29 March 2011
  5. Lowe, Alex (7 October 2009). "Lomu lends his weight to rugby sevens Olympic bid", The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 March 2011
  6. John Duce, (27 Mar 2011). "New Zealand Beat England 29–17 to Win Hong Kong Rugby Sevens", Bloomberg, Retrieved 29 March 2011
  7. 1 2, Russia to host Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, May 12, 2010,
  8. Sallay, Alvin (29 Mar 2011). "IRB under pressure to save World Cup Sevens", South China Morning Post
  9. Future of Rugby World Cup Sevens confirmed, June 12, 2013,
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