With excitement levels building, fans around the globe can now plan their Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 programmes in earnest as the match schedule has today been announced.
The competition, which features the world’s top 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams, will be played on 20-22 July at the iconic AT&T Park in San Francisco’s Bay Area.
An innovative tournament format will see every match count. In both the men’s and women’s tournaments teams will have to win every match in order to be crowned World Cup winners.
In the men’s competition, where nations will be competing to get their hands on the famous Melrose Cup, there will be an initial knock-out preliminary round featuring the nations ranked ninth to 24th, while the top eight seeds progress automatically to the round of 16.
The women will be the first to take to the pitch at AT&T Park as Fiji face Spain in the first match of the tournament on 20 July. Top seeds and reigning World Cup holders New Zealand, who will enter the competition high on confidence following their recent gold medal performance at the Commonwealth Games, will face Mexico in the round of 16.
Olympic champions and current HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series leaders Australia will take on Papua New Guinea while hosts USA, seeded fifth, will wrap up the round of 16 action against China, who are an emerging force following their victory in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong in April.
The men’s tournament also gets underway on day one with Kenya, runners-up in the recent Hong Kong and Vancouver rounds of the HSBC World Sevens Series, facing Tonga in the first game of the preliminary round.
In the evening session on the first day of competition Olympic champions and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leaders Fiji will take on the winner of Japan v Uruguay in the round of 16, while reigning World Cup champions New Zealand will face the winner of Russia v Hong Kong.
Top seeds South Africa will encounter the winners of Ireland v Chile, while host nation USA, ranked fifth, wrap up the first day of competition as they are drawn against the winner of Wales v Zimbabwe in the final match of the day.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The release of the match schedule marks another exciting step on the journey to the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco. Fans can now begin to plan their tournaments and teams can focus on their prospective opponents.
“There has never been a more competitive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series than this year’s edition, with five different winners in the first five rounds in the men’s series, and only 16 points separating the top four nations in the women’s series, we are all set for a great showcase of the drama and excitement of rugby sevens at the first Rugby World Cup event ever to be held in the USA.”
The host city San Francisco is making excellent progress towards staging the first Rugby World Cup of any description ever in the USA and strong ticket sales have boosted expectations of an electrifying atmosphere inside the famous Baseball stadium that usually home to the San Francisco Giants.