All 16 core teams on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series have arrived in Vancouver this week ahead of the highly anticipated HSBC Canada Sevens on 16-17 April at BC Place stadium.
The team captains visited the Chief Joe Mathias Center in North Vancouver on Wednesday where they were greeted by a Squamish First Nation Elder and met Squamish artist Ray Natraoro who has designed the medals for this year’s tournament.
South Africa were winners in Vancouver last year and arrive in Canada as 2022 Series leaders with 98 points ahead of Australia and Argentina who are equal in second place on 83 points.
However, the Blitzboks were beaten quarter-finalists last weekend in Singapore, after their impressive 36 match-winning run had come to an end at the hands of the USA during the pool phase.
Meanwhile, Olympic champions Fiji and Rugby World Cup Sevens winners New Zealand, who contested a thrilling gold medal match in Singapore, will be looking to continue their fine return to Series action after missing earlier events in the Series due to Covid-19 logistical challenges.
Fiji captain Tevita Daugunu said: “We are hoping to maintain our standards from last week. Preparation is going really well so far, getting back to the training board, looking at our mistakes from last week and working on them ready to go in to the Vancouver tournament as a new-look team.
This Series is really special now, all the teams are competitive. Last week was a different ball game altogether and may the best team win this weekend.”
Fresh from their victory in Singapore, Fiji will face the USA, Kenya and England in pool A. New Zealand will be looking to repeat their gold medal success from the last time they competed in Vancouver in March 2020 and they take on Samoa, Wales and Japan in pool B.
Australia have reached the medal podium in three of the five rounds so far in the 2022 Series and will face stiff competition in pool C from Series leaders South Africa, who won the first four rounds of the Series prior to Singapore.
Hosts Canada will be looking to draw inspiration from the home crowd support with Spain completing the pool C line-up.
Ireland were in impressive form to finish fourth in Singapore and they are drawn together with Argentina, France and Scotland in a what promises to be a very competitive pool D.
Canada captain Phil Berna said: “Coming home is always huge for us, it is the date that we have highlighted in our calendars and all the boys are really excited to play in front of a home crowd.
We need their support and it helps so much, the energy of the crowd pumps the boys up and you get that extra energy, speed and fitness so hopefully, the fans bring their enthusiasm and noise again.”
The action kicks off on Saturday 16 April at 09:00 local time (GMT-7) with Argentina v France. All teams will complete their three pool matches on day one with Australia v South Africa the last match of the day scheduled for 18:33 local time.
The finals day commences at 09:00 on Sunday with the quarter-finals followed by the semi-finals and the gold medal match kicking off at 17:58 local time.
The remaining tickets for the popular event are available at https://www.canadasevens.com/tickets-vancouver/
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on World Rugby digital platforms including www.world.rugby, You Tube and Facebook in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.
Following outstanding men’s and women’s competitions at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2021, the Series continues to reach new fans.
Independent research showed Rugby sevens’ second Olympic appearance to be hugely impactful for the sport in engaging and inspiring new, younger and more diverse fans across the globe, particularly in emerging rugby nations with 54 percent agreeing the Olympics increased their interest in the sport and 63 percent watching sevens for the first time.
2022 is a huge year for rugby sevens. Alongside the Series, the Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham, England in July and following the grand finale of the Series in Los Angeles in August, all eyes will turn to Cape Town, South Africa for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 on 9-11 September.