Australia will solely represent Oceania after New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa were unfortunately unable to travel to Spain due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Captain’s soaked up the sun on Malagueta beach in Malaga on Wednesday ahead of the landmark first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event ever to be hosted in Spain, which takes place from 21-23 January at the Estadio Ciudad de Malaga.
The Australian women will arrive in Spain in confident mood at the top of the Series rankings following their comprehensive back-to-back victories in the first two rounds of the Series in Dubai in late 2021.
Australia women’s captain Demi Hayes said: “We got a lot of confidence coming out of Dubai but here in Spain is another tournament and a new place we have never played so we are really excited to go out there and showcase rugby sevens. Preparation has been good and we’ve had one focus to come here and take it game by game.”
England, Scotland and Wales men’s teams and England’s women will take to the field for the first time in the 2022 Series after reverting to play as separate home nations after having competed jointly as Great Britain during the Olympic year in 2021.
Meanwhile invitational teams in the shape of Germany and Jamaica men and Belgium and Poland women will have the chance to shine at the highest level as teams from New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa were unfortunately unable to travel to Spain due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Fiji’s men's and women's teams were unable to travel to Malaga and have not been replaced, meaning opponents in their respective group matches will receive three match points for a “bye” and a score of 0-0 will be recorded for those games.
Play in the HSBC Spain Sevens - Malaga will kick-off at 09:00 local time (GMT+1) on Friday, 21 January with a women’s Pool C encounter between Russia and Brazil before Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists France take on England.
Hosts Spain will face Dubai winners Australia, Ireland and Belgium in Pool A.
In the absence of Fiji, Pool B will see invitational team Poland face Canada and USA in the pool stage.
The men’s competition will commence after the first round of women’s pool play on day one with Pool D’s Kenya and Canada getting things underway. Completing the line-up in Pool D is France and Wales.
In Pool A the Series leaders South Africa face England and Scotland, with Fiji missing out.
Pool B includes Germany, Australia, Ireland and Japan while hosts Spain will take on USA, Jamaica and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists Argentina in Pool C.
Day two of the tournament will commence at 09:00 local time with the last of the women’s pool matches. The third and final day will kick off at 10:00 and will feature the Cup finals for both the men’s and women’s tournaments to determine the winners of the inaugural HSBC Spain Sevens in Malaga, before the teams move across Spain to Seville for the fourth round of the Series on 28-30 January.
Spain is a key emerging nation for rugby in both sevens and 15’s formats of the game. With both the men’s and women’s teams firmly established as core teams on the World Series it is exciting to see top level rugby sevens come to Spain as the sport continues to grow from strength to strength throughout the country.
Spain men’s captain Javier de Juan said: “It is incredible for us to play a great tournament like the World Series at home for the first time. For us it is like a dream. Rugby sevens is really dynamic and enjoyable to see and I hope the Spanish fans will enjoy it.”
Following outstanding men’s and women’s competitions at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2021, the Series continue 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 per cent agreeing the Olympics increased their interest in the sport and 63 per cent watching sevens for the first time.
The health and welfare of everyone involved remains the top priority and our thanks and gratitude go to the Spanish Rugby Federation, government authorities and all partners and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication to ensure the safe and secure delivery of these events.
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. Find out where to watch here.