World Rugby has today confirmed that the combined Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rounds in Hamilton and Sydney, which were provisionally scheduled for 23-24 and 30-31 January 2021 respectively, will not take place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The opening legs of the 2021 season, set for Dubai and Cape Town, have also been cancelled but World Rugby continue to work towards a return to World Series action, with planning ongoing towards holding events in Hong Kong and Singapore in April 2021. A further update on HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series scheduling will be given in due course.
World Rugby Chief Executive, Brett Gosper, commented: “We continue to closely monitor the ongoing and dynamic global situation with Covid-19 and the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public remains sacrosanct. While it is disappointing not be able to go ahead with the Series events in New Zealand and Australia in January 2021, we are working very hard together with all host organisations, participating unions and other stakeholders to bring a safe, secure and highly impactful return to action as soon as possible and we look forward to returning to Sydney and Hamilton in the future.”
While today’s announcement is disappointing news for the Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens squads, the IRFU continues to work hard behind-the-scenes with other European unions to develop supplementary competition opportunities at regional level for both programmes, in addition to the staging of the IRFU Academy 7s tournaments for the Men’s panel.
These tournaments, to be contested by the Ireland Men’s Sevens team and the four provincial Academies, will provide Anthony Eddy‘s side with a meaningful return to action as they continue to build and prepare towards the final Olympic qualification event in the first half of 2021. World Rugby say planning for the Olympic Repechage ahead of the Tokyo Games is ongoing.
Separately, plans are underway for the Ireland Women’s Sevens to play a series of games against Leinster-based Energia All-Ireland League clubs over the coming months, presenting the players with a valuable window to sharpen their match intensity despite the significant disruption caused by the pandemic.
Several members of the National Women’s squad will also represent Leinster-based clubs during the upcoming Energia Community Series, boosting the game-time on offer to players and adding further quality to the competition, which gets underway on the first weekend of October.