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Preview - Brand new HSBC SVNS tournament to kick off in Dubai

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Friday Dec 1, 2023

The newly revamped HSBC SVNS Series is due to kick off this weekend in Dubai between the 2nd and 3rd of December 2023. This fascinating tournament will include the very best talent across the world in the short form of rugby union.

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Taking place in Dubai for the first of the newly rebranded and re-organised world series, the hosts will no doubt be looking to make a fantastic first impression on all the SVNS festival-goers. The aim is to provide a festival-style experience in each of the eight tournament destinations. This weekend in Dubai will feature the top 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams in the world.

Fixtures

The HSBC SVNS action kicks off at 09:00 local time (GMT+4) on Saturday with the men’s and women’s pool matches. Day two begins at 09:30 on Sunday with the quarter-finals and culminates with the women’s gold medal final at 19:13, followed by the men’s final at 19:53 local time.

The men’s competition sees 2023 series champions New Zealand – who were winners in Sydney, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and Toulouse last season – headline Pool A alongside Canada, last year’s Cape Town winners Samoa and the defending Emirates Dubai 7s champions South Africa, in a repeat showdown of the of the recent Rugby World Cup final in Paris in the 15s game.

2023 Hamilton, Vancouver and London winners, Argentina are in Pool B and will face Spain, Australia and Ireland in Dubai, while double Olympic gold medal winners Fiji will meet France, USA and Great Britain in Pool C.

In the women’s competition, New Zealand, who won six of seven tournaments to claim their seventh series title, headline Pool A alongside Fiji, Great Britain and the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 champions South Africa who join the series this season.

Defending Emirates Dubai 7s champions Australia will face Brazil, Ireland and Japan in Pool B, while last season’s overall bronze medal winners USA take on France, Spain and their north American rivals Canada in Pool C.

The competition format replicates the Olympic model and sees the top two teams from each pool, plus the best two third-placed teams qualify for the quarter-finals from where it is knockout rugby.

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To view the full fixture list, please click here.

Predictions

New Zealand are reigning men’s and women’s champions, while South Africa men and Australia women will aim to repeat their success in Dubai last December.

Fiji cannot ever be counted out, whilst France also looked strong in both men’s and women’s competitions last year.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 03: Ricardo Duarttee of South Africa reacts after winning the Men’s Cup Final match between South Africa and Ireland on Day Two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai at The Sevens Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

Where to watch

Fans can watch the HSBC SVNS action wherever you are in the world, either via broadcaster partners or online on RugbyPass TV. All matches taking place on pitch two in Dubai will be live streamed on RugbyPass TV.

Who’s said what

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said:We are excited to begin a new era for rugby sevens with the launch of HSBC SVNS in Dubai. The supercharged new identity for our Olympic format of the game, with iconic destinations and a new concept on and off the field, will further broaden the reach and appeal of the sport beyond its traditional audiences.”

World Rugby Chief Competitions and Performance Officer, Nigel Cass said: “We look forward to kicking off what will be a huge year for rugby sevens in style at the Emirates Dubai 7s. With a new competition format we know the action at The Sevens Stadium will be thrilling from the opening match on Saturday morning to the final whistle on Sunday evening as HSBC SVNS gets under way.”

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New Zealand women’s captain Sarah Hirini said: “It’s absolutely exciting when you come to a place like Dubai with these incredible views. Winning another world series would be pretty amazing for our team. We’ve had a good run and starting here in Dubai which is one of my favourites so we can’t wait to get started.”

Speaking about the new SVNS model with combined men’s and women’s events she added: “I think it will be something that you look back on at the end of your career and reflect how amazing it is knowing that we’ve been one of the only sports to be able to do it – with eight tournaments men’s and women’s together, travelling around the world – I know how monumental this is for our game.”

South Africa men’s captain Selvyn Davids said: “The first tournament of the new season is always exciting. I’ve been out for a while so to be back on the pitch is going to be great and I’m really looking forward to it. With only 12 teams on the circuit now it is going to be even tougher and every game is going to be crucial. Dubai is always a big tournament. We had some tough times last year but we’ve talked about it, put it in the past and we’re here for business and we want to play our best rugby.”

Talking about the inspiration taken from the Springboks recent Rugby World Cup victory Davids added: “For them to get the nation back together and put South African rugby on the map again is great and we just need to step up and try and keep up with them.”

Ireland women’s captain Stacey Flood said: “We’re really looking forward to kicking off here in Dubai. We’ve had a really long pre-season so everyone is raring to go and raring to get in to it. I think it’s really good we’re growing the game throughout the world and I think it’s going to be a great year for rugby sevens. It’s great to have the Olympics as the cherry on top waiting for us but each and every tournament on the series is going to be just as important because that’s what is going to rank us for the Olympics.”

Great Britain men’s captain Robbie Fergusson said: “It’s amazing to be here in Dubai, it’s one of my favourite stops. We were training today in 31 degrees heat, which makes a big difference from training in minus two degrees back in Scotland so it’s a shock to the system but great to be back and embracing the new look series.

“It’s going to be some competition this year, within the twelve teams I think anyone can beat anyone so it’s going to be really exciting and every match will have it all to play for. Everything is going to go down to the wire this year and the tension is going to be immense. It’s going to be fast paced, physical and a fun environment in the Dubai party atmosphere which we buzz off. We’re growing as a team and we’re looking to be competitive as we build through the year.”

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