Almost exactly a year after the first announcement, the new vowelless SVNS kicks off this weekend in Dubai.
The relaunch of the World Sevens Series – now officially the HSBC SVNS – is all ready to go in Dubai from Saturday. So, what has changed?
* There will now be eight rounds to decide the title – or officially seven rounds plus a “final” (more on that shortly).
* Three rounds will be in Asia (Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore), two in North America (Vancouver and Los Angeles), and one each in Africa (Cape Town), Oceania (Perth) and Europe (Madrid).
* Every tournament will follow the Olympic format, with parallel men’s and women’s events. Dubai, Cape Town and Los Angeles will squeeze this into two days, while the other tournaments will run for three.
* There are no guest teams. Each of the first seven tournaments will feature the same 12 teams – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and United States. Aside from Spain these will also be the teams who will play in next year’s Olympics.
* No drawn games - "golden point" for all games that finish level
* 3 points for a win. Bonus point for teams losing by 7 or less.
* The first target for all teams will be to be in the top 8 after the seventh round in Singapore. That will mean that they can play on into the “final” round in Madrid. All points will still be carried forward from the first seven rounds as before, but without the bottom four teams, which will mean even more competitive games. If the title has not yet been decided this could be a dramatic climax, but if it has (and given New Zealand form it might) it could be a bit of an anticlimax.
* However, the exciting thing about the “final” is that there is no automatic relegation anymore. Instead in a new event that has the potential to overshadow the final round of SVNS championship (especially if it is just another Ferns lap of honour), the bottom four teams after seven rounds will meet the top four from the new Challenger Series in a truly high-stakes event with four places in the 2024-25 SVNS on offer.
After this there will be the Olympics, and then regional tournaments that will decide who will play in next season’s Challenger.
This is one of the most exciting things about the new format. Even moreso that with WXV there is now a clear promotion and relegation pathway for any and every international team to find its way to the top. Every team in the world is now no more than four or five steps away from the World Series.
The World Series is now truly a worldwide event.