Discussions between key decision-makers were held in Hong Kong on Saturday

Second Tier Sevens World Series in the pipeline for World Rugby

Work is going on behind the scenes of World Rugby to create a second tier of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series as soon as possible.

A meeting between key figures in the global sevens game was held in Hong Kong on Saturday to discuss how any new competition for the men and women could be realised. Nothing is set in stone and further discussion will be held in the coming months in Dublin to hammer out more details.

According World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot and the organisation’s CEO, Brett Gosper, initial conversations have been positive.

“Where it is going to be held is still under discussion and it is part of a broader discussion but we decided in the Executive Committee (ExCo) strategic plan that part of the resources, money, is there to cover the expansion of the circuit for a second tier,” said Pichot, who is also chairman of sevens. “I don’t like to call it a second tier but it would be a different tournament that will provide access to other countries that don’t play regularly and they have a sevens programme.”

As it stands, there is only the stand alone qualifier for the Sevens World Series each season, held in conjunction with the Hong Kong Sevens.

Second Tier Sevens World Series in the pipeline for World Rugby

Reaching the big time: Brazil qualified for next season’s series (Getty Images)

Adding more on the ExCo view of a series below the current elite circuit, World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said: “There’s nothing that has completely landed yet as we’re still with work groups on formats, number of days, combined events women and men, not combined events in some situations, and how does that affect the programme.

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“Broadcast is a very important parameter in that as well. We had meetings today talking about these things but nothing has landed yet. There are a lot of good conversations around all those areas. We are very conscious that the next level is very important to keep the depth of the game and also for new hosts in other parts of the world too, to drive some interest and test new destinations.”

Nine of the ten men’s legs for 2019 to 2023 have been decided, but while ‘New Zealand’ have won hosting rights for this period, and it is understood that Hamilton are the likeliest location for these legs. However, Rugby World understands that the door has also been left open for Fiji to host one of these legs within that four-year cycle. Discussions are ongoing between New Zealand and Fiji on this.

There is also a similar expansionary view on the destination of the next Sevens World Cup, with a tender process underway. France supremo Bernard Laporte has already publicly stated that he would like France to stage the event.

So where is the ideal location?

“ExCo and World Rugby have been asking the same for the last couple of months – where do we want to take this game forward?” says Pichot. “France have shown interest but we have to look again at how we approach it, at where the growth of the game is taking us.

“We need to think again, as we did with Japan some years ago. We have to find a more rational strategy for growth of the game when making the decision. This will come in the next couple of months.

Second Tier Sevens World Series in the pipeline for World Rugby

New territory: The Sevens World Cup was in San Francisco in July 2018 (Getty Images)

“We sent to the unions to show interest and we are having good responses. Then, where do we want to go with the next phase of developing the game? It’s a question I’m asking myself as chairman of sevens. I’ve been here quite often – I think it’s crucial for the growth of the game (to move into new rugby territories). If France is going to be (it) I don’t know, but we need to think of the growth of the game in different places in the world.”

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Again Gosper added his view: “The last two times the Sevens Rugby World Cup has been very much a development tournament. It’s gone to new places. Either successfully, and slightly less successfully – Moscow didn’t quite get the crowds, whereas San Francisco was a resounding success. It blazed some new trails in a very important market for us.

“But even France could say they need a development sevens, even though they’ve got an HSBC (event) they could have their arguments about why it develops the sport. I’ve heard people like South Africa might be interested too. There are geographies – the USA has a tournament as well each year, but another part of America could get the tournament and so on.

“It has been a development tool and it’s been a successful one recently and I think ExCo will still be thinking along those lines.”

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