After passing the midseason point, the world of rugby sevens is full of ‘Good News’ stories. Extremely good for the USA Eagles 7s men’s side, and the Women’s Sevens Series future development as a whole.
Each has reached this point of the year, in a positive state. The US men heading all others in the HSBC Sevens Series. An unfamiliar role for them, yet the super-consistent side is hitting all the right buttons in the 2018/19 season to date.
And the women’s competition is becoming even more engaging, with the great news that an increased number of tournaments are planned for in 2019/2020. A wonderful acknowledgment of the parity that fans are witnessing in the sport.
This is all in the proceeding season before the 2020 Olympic Games, which will ramp-up the interest in both women’s and men’s teams terrifically. Leading to all new heights of popularity, not seen before in the game.
Women’s Sevens Series enjoys boost in 2019/2020 tournaments
World Rugby announced that the expanded competition will bring more tournaments, as well as more combined events. Chairman Bill Beaumont is excited by this development, and of more integrated fixtures for fans to see both women and men competing.
He said in a media release, “This is an exciting time for sevens as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is set to break new ground with more combined rounds than ever.
“We are delighted to see the women’s series expand to eight rounds over the next four-year cycle, a historic move that will provide more high quality competitive international playing opportunities for women’s sevens teams, a core strand of our Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby plan.”
New look #HSBC7s!
➡️ New world series schedule to include at least six combined men’s and women’s rounds from 2019-20
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 13, 2019
Good news shouldn’t come at the expense of others. So in terms of the Women’s Sevens Series, it will benefit every team. And with it, will bring new goals and prizes for those established nations, as well as every team competing to become an official World Rugby partner.
Hong Kong to become part of Women’s Sevens Series in 2020
At this year’s Hong Kong Sevens event, the official Sevens Series Qualifiers will occur, where one women’s and one men’s team will secure their place in next season’s series. Because even though there are limited places in the forthcoming 2019/2020 series, adding your nation to the prized list of participants is now key to benefiting from the increased interest in women’s rugby, rugby sevens and the game in general.
So while the immediate expansion of women’s tournaments is tied with an increase in ‘combined events’ there is a correlation that the men will see that attention focus on them as well. True, not an entirely different audience, but often a more open rugby viewer.
One who is ready to appreciate the quality of match play. The women’s game standards are much improved since the 2016 Rio Olympics, so it sees fans enjoy watching the women’s matches as much as the men’s.
That will bring an audience who can then add to the rampant support-base of the global HSBC World Series. It can only bring interest from sectors that will boost the profile and scheduling of games in the combined events – as well as the standalone fixtures.
And when fans shine a light on the whole championship, it will reward those teams who are performing at the highest level.
‘Good News’ for USA Eagles 7s
Talking about the highest level, this season the men’s competition is being dominated by one team. The United States men’s side are enjoying a purple-patch of performance that was always hinted at….but now, Mike Friday has achieved the dream outcome [to date].
Right from the outset, the USA Eagles 7s team were in fine form. More so than ever, and even when they reached a fourth successive Cup final – only to trip at the last hurdle – the US side did not let that get them down. No, Madison Hughes motivated his men to achieve even more.
Early this month, they claimed victory in their home tournament. The HSBC USA Sevens win propelled the Eagles to soar into the lead of the Sevens Series, a place they still hold over the chasing pack. Although the Blitzboks returned to the winner’s circle, the US team maintained its extraordinary consistent season, and hold a seven-point advantage over New Zealand.
I Repeat, the USA team lead the World Series. Amazing!
But earned too. As the US team have been able to make their way so often to a Cup final, is close to impossible to believe. Not even the all-powerful Fiji team have been able to show that same high yield of performance. So ‘leading all comers’ is a reward for the Eagles, as well as a guide on how far the nation has grown since they were the so-called ‘newcomers’ to the sport.
Now, thanks to a highly positive outlook and a true team approach, they have four tournaments left to carry on this dream-run. Can they hold that momentum heading to the mecca of rugby sevens? Just wait and see.
HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (Leg 7/10) April 5-7
Heading to Hong Kong, the top five men’s teams are all within touching distance. Maximum points will be required to overhaul Team USA, but as the saying goes in Sevens, “anything can happen in two minutes”.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 11, 2019
Watch out for match results on the LWOS Rugby Sevens facebook page.
One comment this week signifies the importance of the planned improvements to the Women’s Sevens Series. In 2020, it will be the women who ‘break the ice’. One of the leading Black Ferns Sevens players put it eloquently; “this is like a dream. I never believed we would be playing there [Hong Kong]” and her statement can now be past tense.
In 2020, the Women’s Sevens Series will include Hong Kong. It will become an eight-tournament series, and each competition will find more and more reasons to celebrate the positives that the game is enjoying.
The standings in the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series. Top four after six rounds automatically qualify for #Tokyo2020 Olympics
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 3, 2019
New Zealand lead this year’s series standings after three of six legs, but as in the men’s competition, head coach Allan Bunting will need his girls to maintain that same consistency that the US men’s side display.
Do that, and the Good News will continue for both in 2019.
“Main photo credit”
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