Cover photo: France’s William Iraguha races away from the Fiji defense on day one of the HSBC Canada Sevens 2020 at BC Place Stadium on 7 March, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby
World Rugby announced on Friday that the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in London and Paris will be postponed, provisionally until September. The decision was made in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen the sporting calendar across the world stripped bare.
The Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the event had already been postponed to October. That means should the postponement be ratified, Paris will not, as it traditionally does, host the final of the World Series.
New Zealand lead the men’s rankings with 115 points, following by South Africa (104), Fiji (83) and Australia (81).
Other World Rugby events impacted
The women’s World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was also postponed.
World Rugby also announced the Olympic Games Repechage qualification tournament scheduled for June is under review. The governing body said it will continue to consult with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the implications, should it not be possible to hold the qualification event.
Other events affected are as follows:
- The women’s World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Langford has been postponed until later in the year
- The final men’s World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event has been postponed until later in the year
- Some Rugby World Cup 2021 and 2023 qualifying events have been postponed
The World Rugby Hall of Fame, located in Rugby, UK, will also be closed until the end of May in line with public health authority directives, the governing body said.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We stand in solidarity with the global rugby family and people around the world at this exceptional and difficult time, and I will ensure we continue to do everything in our power to protect the wellbeing of the global rugby family and the wider public.
“Taking the appropriate measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus in line with government and public health agency responses and advice is paramount. This has underpinned our decision, taken in consultation with our unions, to suspend these World Rugby tournament activities with immediate effect, including the cancellation of the World Rugby U20 Championship, following conversations with our friends at the Italian federation.
“We are in close dialogue with the IOC relating to the conclusion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rugby sevens qualification, specifically options to replace the final Repechage tournament, should that be required. We have two women’s and one men’s teams left to qualify and are currently considering all options to ensure a fair and credible conclusion to the qualification process.
“Looking at a longer-term strategy, we are in continual dialogue with our unions, regions and the players’ association relating to the wider global impact on rugby activities, including financial implications, driven by government and health authority measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“At this extraordinary time, we are united in our commitment to finding ways of ensuring that on-field activity can resume as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. To that end, the World Rugby Executive Committee is driving the implementation of a dedicated action plan that will guide us through this challenging period as a sport unified across the international and domestic environments.”