Vancouver and Langford, B.C., are back on the full 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series schedule.
World Rugby announced Tuesday that the 2022 season will feature 10 men's and seven women's rounds over six months, starting in November with a pair of joint men's and women's events in Dubai.
The 2022 season will feature new stops in Malaga and Seville, Spain, as well as Toulouse, France.
The World Series ground to a halt due to the pandemic after the Canada Sevens men's tournament in Vancouver in March 2020. The women's event in Langford, slated for May 2-3, 2020, was cancelled along with the rest of the season.
The 2021 campaign eventually was reduced to two events, in Vancouver and Edmonton last month, with some teams missing due to pandemic-related travel and other restrictions. The women's event was limited to four teams in both cities.
South Africa won both men's events in Canada with the Canadians finishing sixth in Vancouver and fourth in Edmonton. Britain won the two so-called women's "Fast Four" tournaments with Canada third both times.
Both Canadian teams were missing veterans, either through retirement or players taking time off after the Tokyo Olympics where the men finished eighth and the women ninth.
The 2022 season will kick off behind close doors Nov. 26-27 with the Emirates Dubai Sevens. A second event Dec. 3-4 at the same venue will feature fans in the stands at the Sevens Stadium.
The World Series will then return to Europe as Spain plays host to combined men’s and women’s events in Malaga and Seville on Jan. 21-23 and 28-30, respectively. The Spanish events temporarily replace traditional stops in Sydney, Australia, and Hamilton, New Zealand, which are currently unable to host due to pandemic-related issues.
The men’s competition then moves to North America with stops Feb. 26-27 in Vancouver and March 5-6 in Los Angeles before shifting to Asia where Hong Kong will host a combined men’s and women’s event April 1-3, followed by a men’s event April 9-10 in Singapore.
After Hong Kong, the women will play April 30-May 1 in Langford before joining the men for a joint event in Toulouse where the women’s season champions will be crowned. The men's season wraps up May 28-29 in London.
Rugby sevens will also take centre stage next year at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, (July 29-31) and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town (Sept. 9-11).
Japan joins the men’s World Series competition as a core team following its promotion as HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series champions in 2020.
Britain will compete in the opening two rounds of the World Series in Dubai before reverting to competition as national unions for the remainder of the 2022 campaign, with England, Scotland and Wales participating on the men’s side and England on the women's.
The 16 men's core teams after the Dubai events are Canada, Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, the U.S. and Wales.
The 11 core women’s teams after the Dubai events are Canada, Australia, Brazil, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and the U.S.
New Zealand’s Black Ferns were champions in 2020.
With Britain competing in the opening two rounds of next season, a points system will be used "that promotes fairness for all competing teams, including those who comprise Great Britain," according to World Rugby. The system will also be used if teams have to miss events due to COVID-19.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 12, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press