World Rugby has announced the schedule for the Rugby World Cup Sevens taking place July 20-22 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
This year’s tournament is different from that of previous World Cups. This is in part because only one field is being used, and so organizers need to fit everything into a tighter schedule.
In the men’s competition, where nations will be competing to get their hands on the famous Melrose Cup, there will be an initial knockout preliminary round featuring the teams ranked ninth to 24th, while the top eight seeds progress automatically to the round of 16.
The women will be the first to take to the pitch at AT&T Park as Fiji faces Spain in the first match of the tournament on July 20. Top seeds and reigning World Cup holder New Zealand, which will enter the competition high on confidence following its recent gold medal performance at the Commonwealth Games, will face Mexico in the round of 16.
Olympic champions and current HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series leader Australia will take on Papua New Guinea, while the tournament host USA team—seeded fifth—will wrap up the round of 16 action against China, which is an emerging force following its victory in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong in April.
The men’s tournament also gets underway on day one with Kenya, runner-up in the recent Hong Kong and Vancouver rounds of the HSBC World Sevens Series, facing Tonga in the first game of the preliminary round.
In the evening session on the first day of competition Olympic champion and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leader Fiji will take on the winner of Japan vs. Uruguay in the round of 16, while reigning World Cup champion New Zealand will face the winner of Russia vs. Hong Kong.
Top-seeded South Africa will encounter the winners of Ireland vs. Chile, while the USA, ranked fifth, wraps up the first day of competition as it is drawn against the winner of Wales (2009 RWC Sevens champs) vs. Zimbabwe in the final match of the day.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The release of the match schedule marks another exciting step on the journey to the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco. Fans can now begin to plan their tournaments and teams can focus on their prospective opponents.
“There has never been a more competitive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series than this year’s edition, with five different winners in the first five rounds in the men’s series, and only 16 points separating the top four nations in the women’s series, we are all set for a great showcase of the drama and excitement of rugby sevens at the first Rugby World Cup event ever to be held in the USA.”