On 9 September, the 40 best men’s and women’s international teams will take to the field in Cape Town determined to leave their mark on Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022.
New Zealand head to South Africa as defending champions in both the men’s and women’s tournaments after the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens made history in San Francisco four years ago.
Both Kiwi teams will have to be at their best if they are to retain their crowns again, though, with double men’s Olympic champions Fiji, women’s Rio gold medallists Australia and hosts South Africa among those keen to end their respective reigns.
With only four months to go until RWC Sevens 2022 kicks off at Cape Town Stadium, we give you the lowdown on the showpiece tournament and its history.
📆 Save the Date!— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) May 18, 2021
Rugby World Cup Sevens is heading to Cape Town, South Africa from 9 ➡️ 11 September, 2022! 🇿🇦#RWC7s
When and where was the first RWC Sevens held?
The inaugural RWC Sevens featured 24 men’s teams and was played at Murrayfield in Edinburgh between 16-18 April, 1993.
Fiji and Latvia contested the first ever RWC Sevens match as Filimoni Seru scored a hat-trick and Waisale Serevi added 17 points in a 42-0 win for the Pacific Islanders.
The Fijians, however, were beaten in the semi-finals by England, who went on to lift the Melrose Cup following a 21-17 defeat of Australia in the final.
England’s tournament squad contained future Rugby World Cup 2003 winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson, the former scoring one of his side’s three tries in the final.
Andrew Harriman, the England captain, finished the tournament as top try-scorer with 12 in 10 matches, while Seru, Brian Lima and Joost van der Westhuizen each scored nine.
Women competed at RWC Sevens for the first time at the 2009 tournament in Dubai. Australia pipped rivals New Zealand to the title, as Shelly Matcham’s try in extra-time of the final sealed a 15-10 win.
Who wins it?
New Zealand is the most successful nation in both the men’s and the women’s tournaments.
Having finished seventh and third at the first two events, the All Blacks Sevens lifted the Melrose Cup for the first time in Argentina in 2001.
They were beaten finalists in Hong Kong four years later and then won back-to-back RWC Sevens in Moscow in 2013 and San Francisco five years later.
Fiji are one men’s title behind New Zealand on two, having won both RWC Sevens that have been held in Hong Kong, in 1997 and 2005. England and Wales have one title apiece.
The Black Ferns Sevens recovered from defeat to Australia in the RWC Sevens 2009 final to win the next two tournaments, in 2013 and 2018.
What happened in 2018?
No team had ever retained the RWC Sevens title, either men’s or women’s, but that changed in San Francisco as New Zealand won both for the second tournament running.
RWC Sevens 2018 took the game to the west coast of the USA, where more than 100,000 fans flocked to AT&T Park, many of them watching rugby for the very first time.
They were treated to a thrilling weekend as the restructured straight knockout competition ensured that every match counted.
For the second men’s RWC Sevens running England and New Zealand were the two teams left standing in the final, and it was the All Blacks Sevens who repeated their victory of five years previously to secure the Melrose Cup for a third time.
Sione Molia scored twice in the showpiece match before Joe Ravouvou, Akuila Rokolisoa and Trael Joass all crossed the whitewash to confirm a 33-12 win.
By the time New Zealand’s men had beaten England, though, the Black Ferns Sevens had already become the first team to successfully defend the RWC Sevens title.
Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick in the women’s final, while Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong also touched down, as France were beaten 29-0.
Who were the top try-scorers and point-scorers in 2018?
The three tries Michaela Blyde scored in the women’s RWC Sevens 2018 final against France took her tally for the tournament to nine, more than any other player. It also meant she ended the competition as its top scorer, with 45 points.
USA speedster Naya Tapper scored seven tries, while Australia’s Evania Pelite and Blyde’s team-mate Portia Woodman both crossed the whitewash six times.
Joe Ravouvou, who scored in the men’s final, notched six tries as the All Blacks Sevens won the title campaign, as did South Africa’s Siviwe Soyizwapi.
Papua New Guinea’s Emmanuel Guise, meanwhile, ended the weekend as the men’s tournament’s top scorer, having notched 37 points via three tries and 11 conversions.
Who are the all-time RWC Sevens top points and try scorers?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given he played more RWC Sevens matches than any other player, World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Waisale Serevi is the tournament’s all-time top-scorer.
Serevi played 31 matches across four RWC Sevens, 12 more than countryman Marika Vunibaka, who appeared at three tournaments.
‘King of Sevens’ Serevi scored 297 points at the tournament, 95 of which came via tries. Vunibaka is all-time leading RWC Sevens try-scorer having touched down 23 times in his 19 appearances.
Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman is both the all-time leading women’s points and try-scorer having crossed the whitewash an incredible 18 times in just 10 RWC Sevens appearances.
Woodman has competed at two RWC Sevens, in Moscow and San Francisco and won them both, scoring tries in each final.
Where is RWC Sevens 2022 being played?
The iconic Cape Town Stadium will be the host venue for RWC Sevens 2022. Constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it is the home of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens and has attracted record-breaking crowds to the event.
Cape Town Stadium also hosted all three tests – and two tour matches – during the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021. The Springboks won the series 2-1.
In February 2020, the stadium welcomed a Guinness World Record crowd for an exhibition tennis match of 51,954 as Roger Feder and Rafael Nadal took part in the Match in Africa.
How many teams have qualified?
Twelve teams – four women’s and eight men’s – pre-qualified for RWC Sevens 2022 thanks to their performance at the previous tournament in San Francisco.
New Zealand, France, Australia and the USA booked their place in Cape Town by reaching the women’s semi-finals at RWC Sevens 2018. They will be joined in September by hosts South Africa, who were 14th four years ago.
A further seven women’s teams have already made sure of their place at RWC Sevens 2022 through regional qualifying. Those are Japan, China, Fiji, Brazil, Colombia, Canada and Madagascar and they will be joined by another four teams in South Africa in September based on results in the Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Championship.
Meanwhile, men’s RWC Sevens 2018 quarter-finalists New Zealand, England, South Africa, Fiji, Argentina, the USA, France and Scotland guaranteed their place in the draw.
The identity of 12 of the 16 men’s regional qualifiers is already known with Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, Jamaica, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya assured of their place at this year’s showpiece tournament.
How will the remaining qualifiers be decided?
We will know the identity of the remaining eight qualifiers (four women’s and four men’s) in July when the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship reaches its conclusion.
Where can I buy tickets?
Tickets for RWC Sevens 2022 went on sale on Monday, 28 February via Ticketmaster, priced between R150 ($9.90 / €8.65 / £7.30) and R1,750 ($115 / €100 / £85) and are selling fast.
In order to make sure that you can access Cape Town Stadium all match tickets must only be purchased at https://www.rwcsevens.com/tickets. There is a ticket limit of 10 per person, per day.