World Rugby and SA Rugby announced on Friday that the Cape Town leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as the tournament in Singapore, planned for 29-30 October, have been cancelled.
“We highly regret that we had to cancel the Cape Town Sevens for a second successive season, but unfortunately the situation with the pandemic has made it impossible for us to stage the world-class event we’ve become used to in recent years,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“There were simply too many insurmountable challenges, in the ever-changing environment we are currently operating in, to allow us to predictably plan for an event of this magnitude.
“Due to COVID travel restrictions, several major teams had already indicated that they would not be able to travel to Cape Town in December, which further complicated our planning.
“In conjunction with World Rugby, we had no other choice than to take this very disappointing but necessary decision, with the health and welfare of players, fans and the wider public as top priority. However, we are hard at work to deliver a world-class Rugby World Cup Sevens in September next year.”
As a result of the cancellation of the two tournaments, the World Series will now look slightly different for the 2021 season.
The series will still kick off with the HSBC Canada Sevens men’s events alongside women’s fast four tournaments in Vancouver (18-19 September) and Edmonton (25-26 September) later this month – forming the 2021 Series – while Dubai will now host a pair of men’s and women’s combined events, which will kick off the 2022 Series.
The Emirates Dubai 7s will host a behind closed doors round on 26-27 November, followed by a second event on 3-4 December with fans in attendance at The Sevens Stadium.
A busy and exciting year is already in the planning for 2022, with the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which will be announced later this month, followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on 29-31 July, and concluding with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town on 9-11 September.
Following constructive discussions, it has been agreed that Sydney, Australia and Hamilton, New Zealand, will not be part of the schedule in 2022 due to the ongoing travel and logistical challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in this region. Advanced discussions are ongoing towards replacement hosts for these events in the 2022 Series.
Given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, there will be no relegation from the 2021 Series and the results will not contribute towards seedings for any other future events.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “The Olympic Games in Tokyo once again showcased the very best of rugby sevens to a huge global audience as the sport’s fast-paced, action-packed style thrilled fans watching around the globe.
“We now look ahead to the return of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with the upcoming events in Canada and what promises to be a very busy and exciting year for the sport in 2022 with the Series, which will kick off in Dubai, followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and climaxing with Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.
“The truly global nature of the Series has made it difficult to plan with certainty in this uniquely challenging time as the ongoing and dynamic impacts and travel restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic continue to present a challenge to all stakeholders.
“Together with the host organisers we are disappointed not to be able to deliver the planned Series events in Singapore and Cape Town this year, however we look forward to bringing the joy and spirit of rugby sevens back to both cities in 2022. As ever, the health and welfare of players, fans and wider society continues to be our primary concern.
“We are thankful for the strong spirit of collaboration from HSBC and all our partners, who have been unwavering in their support and ensuring that rugby sevens has a bright future.
“World Rugby is making good progress working with a range of stakeholders to help define the longer term direction for the Series and we are confident this will provide a platform for the continued global growth of the game to build on what we know will be an very exciting year in 2022.”