Pic & Text: World Rugby
The match schedule for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018, which takes place on 29 November-1 December, has been confirmed.
Dubai again hosts both the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, acting as the men’s series opener and round two of the women’s, following on from in the opening round in Glendale, Colorado, last month.
Twenty-eight teams will compete over the course of three days, 15 men’s core sides and 11 women’s core sides, with Zimbabwe’s men and Kenya’s women named as the invitational teams.
This year has an added incentive for both men’s and women’s teams, who are not only competing for the coveted world series title but also for their ticket to Tokyo 2020, as the 2019 series acts as principle route for Olympic Games qualification.
The women’s competition kicks off day one (29 November) of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens with Pool C where Canada again face France in a repeat of the recent bronze final at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens where Canada triumphed 28-0. Spain and Fiji are the other two teams in Pool C.
In Pool B, defending Dubai champions Australia, one of only two teams to have won the women’s title in Dubai, are set to take on England, recent HSBC USA Women’s Sevens runners-up USA – who they beat 34-0 in last year’s Dubai final, and new core team China.
Series leaders New Zealand will face Ireland, Russia – who have medalled in the last three Dubai tournaments – and Kenya, who secured their position having won the Rugby Africa Sevens Championship earlier this year. Kenya have played on the series once before in Clermont-Ferrand in May 2016.
The men’s tournament kicks off on day two (30 November) with Pool C opening proceedings at 09:00 local time. Recent Rugby World Cup Sevens champions and last year’s Dubai runners-up New Zealand will face USA, Spain and Wales.
Olympic champions and 2018 series runners-up Fiji head Pool B and will face Scotland, France and Kenya, who are under the leadership of newly-appointed head coach Paul Murunga.
Pool A features defending series champions South Africa, Samoa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, who qualified by winning the Rugby Africa Sevens Championship in October. This will be Zimbabwe’s first appearance on the series since Cape Town in 2015 and their second appearance in Dubai having competed in 2011.
In Pool D, Australia will meet England, who will act as Team GB’s Olympic qualifying team for Tokyo 2020, Canada and Japan, who return as a core team after winning the series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong earlier this year.
World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont said: “It’s an exciting season for rugby sevens as we enter another Olympic qualification year ahead of Tokyo 2020.
“The recent women’s series opening round in Glendale, Colorado was a fantastic display of sevens action with the women’s competition already proving to be highly competitive.
“We will be watching closely as the men’s teams not only get their season underway in Dubai but also compete to secure their ticket to Tokyo 2020.”