(REUTERS) – The 2022 World Rugby Sevens Series will kick off with a pair of men’s and women’s rounds in Dubai starting in November, while Hong Kong and Singapore return as stops, the sport’s global body said on Tuesday (Oct 12) as it announced its schedule.
But Sydney, Australia and Hamilton, New Zealand will not host the series next year due to logistical challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, World Rugby added.
Instead, Spain will play host for the first time with men’s and women’s events scheduled in Malaga and Seville from Jan 21 to 23 and Jan 28 to 30.
Toulouse in France will also welcome teams in May next year.
The series will have 10 men’s and seven women’s rounds over six months. The first round in Dubai will be behind closed doors on Nov 26 and 27 followed by another on Dec 3 and 4 with fans at The Sevens Stadium.
“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure we can announce a full series schedule today,” World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said in a statement.
“We thank HSBC, the host organisations, unions, commercial and broadcast partners for their unwavering support and spirit of collaboration as we navigate the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic together.”
The men’s series will also have North American rounds in Vancouver (Feb 26-27) in Canada and Los Angeles (March 5-6) in the United States before moving to Asia, where Hong Kong will host a men’s and women’s event (April 1-3) after a gap of two years.
That will be followed by a men’s event in Singapore (April 9-10).
“As ever, the health and welfare of players, fans and wider society continues to be our primary concern and we will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure the safe delivery of the series,” Gilpin said.
South Africa are the defending champions after claiming the 2021 series, which consisted of only two rounds in Vancouver and Edmonton.
New Zealand won the 2019-20 championship, which was cut to six rounds owing to the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
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