World Rugby Sevens Series
Current season, competition or edition:|
2016–17 World Rugby Sevens Series
|No. of teams||24|
|Most titles||New Zealand (12 titles)|
The World Rugby Sevens Series, known officially as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series due to sponsorship from banking group HSBC, is an annual series of international rugby sevens tournaments run by World Rugby featuring national sevens teams. The series, organised for the first time as the World Sevens Series in the 1999–2000 season, was formed to develop an elite-level competition series between rugby nations and develop the sevens game into a viable commercial product for World Rugby.
Teams compete for the World Rugby Sevens Series title by accumulating points based on their finishing position in each tournament. New Zealand had originally dominated the Series, winning each of the first six titles from 1999–2000 to 2004–05, but since then, Fiji, South Africa and Samoa have each won season titles.
As of the 2015–16 season, the season's circuit consists of 10 tournaments in 10 countries, and visits five of the six populated continents. Australia, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, France and England each host one event. Two previous host countries, Singapore and France, returned to the circuit for the 2015–16 season to replace Japan and Scotland, and a completely new tour stop in Canada was also added.
Early starts and New Zealand dominace
The first international Rugby sevens tournament was held at Scotland, which was celebrating a century of the Scottish Rugby Union. Seven international teams took part in the first tournament, which had England taking the trophy. In 1976, the Hong Kong Sevens tournament began. Over the next two decades the number of international sevens competitions increased, the most notable among these being the Rugby World Cup Sevens with the inaugural event being played in Scotland in 1993.
The first season of the World Sevens Series began in 1999. Dubai hosted the first event which was won by New Zealand, the first of what would be five events for the season as they took the trophy over Fiji.
New Zealand won the first six seasons and was the favourite for the 2005–06 season. But it wasn't to be, as they didn't make to any of the cup finals that year. The main two teams that were in contention for that year were Fiji and England. Fiji would clinch that season trophy on the last day of the season at London when they defeated Kenya in the quarter finals of the cup tournament. New Zealand would finish fourth before regaining the trophy in 2006–07 season in the last tournament of the season.
South Africa was the next team to win the series after taking home the 2008–09 title in London. In the 2009–10 season, Samoa who finished seventh the previous year shocked the world by taking out the trophy from New Zealand and Australia with four venues being won including the Hong Kong Sevens.
New Qualifying System and tournaments
The 2011–12 season was the last season to have 12 core teams with an expansion to a 15 teams that had core status being played out at Hong Kong. Those teams that would join the 12 core teams for the next season would be Canada (returning to core status for the first time since 2008), Spain and Portugal. Only Spain hasn't made it back after being relegated in the 2014–15 season. The Japan event also made a return for the first time since 2001 (lasting until 2015) but New Zealand kept the dominance by finishing on top.
Argentina was originally planned to begin hosting a tenth event in the 2012–13 season, giving the tour an event on each continent, but those plans have been shelved indefinitely. 2012–13 was meant to have another round being added with Mar Del Plata being the venue. But when Argentina join the Rugby Championship the tournament was cancelled which meant that with the same schedule, New Zealand again would be the winners by 41 points over South Africa. They would take it again in 2013–14 with Spain being the first team to be relegated after finishing last during that season with Japan replacing them.
Heading into the next season, rugby sevens was approved as an Olympic sport with the top four teams qualifying to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Fiji (that year's champion), South Africa, New Zealand and Great Britain all qualifying through. But the big surprise of the season came from the United States who surprised everyone by taking out the 2015 London Sevens to finish in 6th place from 13th the previous season.Russia would join the core teams the next season at the expense of Japan after they qualified from the qualifiers in Hong Kong.
The 2015–16 saw a chance in the schedule with the Japan Sevens and the Scotland Sevens being dropped for France and Singapore to make a return on the world calendar while Canada held their first world sevens tournament. Fiji would reclaim the title that they won the previous season in which, 5 different winners including two new first time winners in Kenya (Singapore champion)  and Scotland (London champion)  won a tournament.
- For a list of previous hosts, see World Rugby Sevens Series hosts
TV and media
The tour received 1,147 hours of air time in 2005–06; 530 of which was live, and was broadcast to 136 countries. By 2008–09, the hours of air time had increased to over 3,300, with 35 broadcasters airing the series in 139 countries and 15 languages. Broadcast time increased further in 2009–10, with 3,561 hours of air time (1,143 hours live) carried by 34 broadcasters in 141 countries and 16 languages. In 2010–11, 3,657 hours of coverage were aired (1,161 hours live), with the same number of broadcasters as the previous season but six new countries added. For that season, Sevens World Series programming was available in 332 million homes worldwide, with a potential audience of 760 million.
In October 2010, the International Rugby Board announced that they had concluded a 5-year deal with HSBC which granted them status as the first ever title sponsor of the Sevens World Series. Through the accord, HSBC acquired title naming rights to all tournaments in the World Series, beginning with the Dubai Sevens on 3 December 2010. HSBC has since opted to sub-license the naming rights to individual tournaments, while retaining its name sponsorship of the overall series. A renewed, 4-year deal was announced before the 2015–16 Series, this deal was also expanded to include the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series
|South Africa||Cell C/Nelson Mandela Bay|
|USA||No named sponsor|
|Hong Kong||Cathay Pacific/HSBC|
|Japan||No named sponsor|
Core teams, promotion and relegation
A group of 15 "core teams" is announced for each season, based on performances in the previous season, and each core team has a guaranteed place in all of that season's events. The core teams have been selected through a designated promotion/relegation process since the 2012-13 season. The core teams for the 2016-17 season are:
| 2015–16 |
|Team||Core since|| Best Series |
|2||South Africa||1999–2000||1st (2008–09)|
|3||New Zealand||1999–2000||1st (2013–14)|
|6||United States||2008–09||6th (2015–16)|
- Japan was promoted for the 2016-17 season, replacing Portugal who were relegated.
|Team|| Last season |
as core team
| Best Series |
Through the 2011–12 series, the number of core teams was 12, but the number of core teams was expanded to 15 for 2012–13. The three extra teams were determined by a 12-team qualifying tournament held as part of the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens. The increase in the number of core teams did not directly lead to an increase in the size of the existing tournaments.
Promotion and relegation
The following promotion/relegation process has been effective since the 2013–14 series:
- One team is relegated and one team is promoted each year.
- The core team that finishes bottom of the table at the end of the season series is relegated.
- The team that wins the 12-team qualifying tournament at the Hong Kong Sevens is promoted.
Results by season
Updated after the 2015–16 season:
Rugby sevens is a face-paced version of rugby union with seven players each side on a full-sized rugby field. Games are much shorter, lasting generally seven minutes each half. The game is quicker and faster-scoring than 15-a-side rugby and the rules are far simpler, which explains part of its appeal. It also gives players the space for superb feats of individual skill. Sevens is traditionally played in a two-day tournament format. Currently, in a normal event, 16 teams are entered.
World Rugby operates satellite tournaments in each continent alongside the Sevens World Series which serve as qualifiers for Series events; in 2012–13 they also determined the entrants in the World Series Pre-Qualifier, and from 2013–14 determine the entrants in the Core Team Qualifier.
In each tournament, the teams are divided into pools of four teams, who play a round-robin within the pool. Points are awarded in each pool on a different schedule from most rugby tournaments—3 for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a loss, 0 for a no-show. In case teams are tied after pool play, the tiebreakers are:
- Head-to-head result between the tied teams.
- Difference in points scored and allowed during pool play.
- Difference in tries scored and allowed during pool play.
- Points scored during pool play.
- Coin toss.
As of the 2009–10 series, four trophies are awarded in each tournament. In descending order of prestige, they are the Cup, whose winner is the overall tournament champion, Plate, Bowl and Shield. Each trophy is awarded at the end of a knockout tournament.
In a normal event, the top two teams in each pool advance to the Cup competition. The four quarterfinal losers drop into the bracket for the Plate. The Bowl is contested by the third and fourth-place finishers in each pool, while the Shield is contested by the losing quarterfinalists of the Bowl.
A third-place match is now conducted between the losing Cup semifinalists in all tournaments; this was introduced for the 2011–12 series.
In 2012–13, the season-ending London Sevens expanded to 20 teams, with 12 competing for series points and eight involved in the Core Team Qualifier. With the promotion place now determined at the Hong Kong Sevens, the London Sevens will revert to the traditional 16-team format in 2013–14.
Hong Kong 7s
The Hong Kong Sevens (an anomaly as a three-day event) is the most famous sevens tournament. The Hong Kong Sevens had 24 teams through the 2011–12 series, but has featured 28 teams since 2012–13, with 15 core teams and the winner of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series competing for series points. At the 2013 event, the remaining 12 teams were those in the World Series Pre-Qualifier; from 2014 forward, the remaining 12 teams are those in the Core Team Qualifier. In Hong Kong, the Shield was awarded for the first time in 2010.
Originally, the six pool winners of the Hong Kong Sevens, plus the two highest-finishing second-place teams, advanced to the Cup.
In 2010 and 2011, a different system was used:
- The losing quarterfinalists in the Cup competition contested the Plate competition.
- The four remaining second-place teams and the four best third-place teams, which contested the Plate in previous years, competed for the Bowl.
- The remaining eight teams in the competition, which contested the Bowl in previous years, competed for the Shield.
In the transitional year of 2012, the Hong Kong Sevens was split into two separate competitions. The 12 core teams competed for the Cup, Plate and Bowl under a format similar to that of a regular event. The 12 invited teams all competed for the Shield, with the top three sides in that competition also earning core status for 2012–13.
From 2013 on, the four trophies in Hong Kong will be contested under the same format used in regular 16-team tournaments. Only the 15 core teams, plus the winner of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, now compete in the main draw of that event.
Player awards by season
Players in bold are active.
Updated: 3 December 2016
The season championship is determined by points earned in each tournament. World Rugby introduced a new scoring system for the 2011–12 series, in which all teams participating in a tournament are guaranteed points. Initially, World Rugby announced the new points schedule only for the standard 16-team events; the allocations for the Hong Kong Sevens were announced later.
Starting with the 2012–13 series, all events have 16 teams competing for series points, except for the 2013 edition of the London Sevens (in which only 12 teams competed for series points).
If two or more teams are level on series points at the end of the season, the following tiebreakers are used to determine placement: