(Pictures & Text via World Rugby)
All 16 teams have arrived in London as sides get set for the last round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this coming weekend.
Twickenham plays host to the 10th round of the series, just days after South Africa wrapped up the competition with a win in Paris.
Since rugby sevens made its debut at the Olympic Games last year, the world series has received a massive boost with a reach of more than 120 million people this season on social media channels, resulting in a massive 75 million video views – up 25 per cent on the previous season.
Participation levels in rugby across the globe are now at an all-time high of 8.5 million people (30 percent of which are women and girls) while the sport also benefits from an estimated 300 million fans worldwide. The successful debut of the rugby sevens at the Olympics piqued the interest of 16.8m new fans who have now been served up the most exhilarating sevens series to-date.
The 2016-17 season has also seen the game extend to more than 200 countries and regions, with traffic to the worldrugby.org Japanese language site increased by more than 50 percent. Series attendances are also up on last year after nine rounds as sevens continue to inspire fans of all ages across the globe.
South Africa may have wrapped up the series in Paris but there is still lots to play for in Twickenham, not least for Scotland who won in London last year and were beaten in the final by South Africa on Sunday.
Captain Scott Riddell said: “I think we had a collective belief among the boys (in Paris last weekend). There’s great experience in that squad now. We weren’t chasing results at the weekend and that put us in the ascendancy.
“Last year in London (where Scotland claimed their first ever sevens tournament win) was a great day. It was incredible to be involved with. It would be great to put ourselves in that position again this weekend but we’re not getting carried away and focusing on day one at the moment. In this sport you can’t look too far ahead so we need to look at our next game.”
South Africa captain Phillip Snyman said that, despite the series win, his side are very focused on winning yet another tournament this season.
“It was a relief to win the series and it’s good not to have to go into the last tournament needing a win. We set high standards for ourselves and hopefully, we can be successful and lift the London Cup trophy as well."
After nine rounds of the series, England skipper Tom Mitchell is looking forward to a tournament on home soil: “The support we’ve had throughout the whole season has been phenomenal, but finishing the series in front of a home crowd at Twickenham means so much to the entire squad. The HSBC London Sevens is always a unique and exciting tournament which brings a real festival atmosphere to Twickenham and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”
USA’s Folau Niua will play in his 50th series tournament this weekend while his team-mate Perry Baker will be hoping to secure top try scorer for the series when it’s announced on Sunday evening in London. Baker, who has notched up 49 tries, currently leads England's Dan Norton by four in the chase for top try scorer.
Meanwhile, the nominations for the World Rugby Sevens Rookie of the Year have been announced ahead of the last round of the series.
Argentina’s Matias Osadczuk, Fiji’s Kalione Nasoko and New Zealand’s Vilimoni Koroi all impressed in their debut year and the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony that follows the tournament on Sunday evening in Twickenham.
When and Where?
The London 7s takes place at the Twickenham Stadium, on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th of May. The matches kick-off Saturday and Sunday at 09:30 local time. The final is scheduled for 17:57 local time on Sunday.
Where Can I See It?
SOUTH AFRICA, USA, WALES, KENYA
SCOTLAND, FRANCE, ARGENTINA, RUSSIA 7
NEW ZEALAND, FIJI, CANADA, JAPAN
ENGLAND, SAMOA, AUSTRALIA, SPAIN