All 40 international team captains lined up in front of majestic Table Mountain in Cape Town on Wednesday as excitement reaches fever pitch ahead of the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, which takes place from 9-11 September at Cape Town Stadium.
With an anticipated record-breaking crowd of more than 150,000 fans set to create an unforgettable atmosphere in an iconic venue, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 aims to set new standards in innovation, fan-engagement and sporting excitement to reinforce rugby sevens as one of the fastest growing Olympic sports and continue to attract new fans from an increasing global audience.
The unique ‘winner takes all’ knock-out competition format first introduced at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco means every match counts as teams will need to win every time they enter the pitch in order to become world champions.
The 24-team men’s competition kicks off the action on day one with a qualification round involving teams seeded from nine to 24. The winners of the qualification round will progress to the round of 16 where they will take on the top eight seeded teams, while the losers will go into the Bowl competition which will decide positions 17 to 24.
There will be some hard fought matches in the qualification round as ninth seeds Ireland, who have been in outstanding form on the World Series this year, play Portugal, who overcame core Series team Spain in the European qualifier to claim their place in Cape Town.
Germany and Chile who have both impressed as invitational teams on the World Series come face-to-face in the qualification round where fireworks can be expected with survival at stake.
Hosts South Africa are top seeds in men’s tournament following a remarkable 36-match winning streak which saw them win six rounds of the World Series in a row across 2021-2022. However they will face stiff competition with Australia seeded second and double Olympic champions Fiji seeded third. New Zealand are the reigning men’s champions and are seeded fifth coming in to the event.
The 16-team women’s tournament also begins on Friday with the round of 16 knock out matches based on seedings on the first day of competition, meaning fans will be kept on the edge of their seats from the very first kick to the last.
Women’s Olympic champions and reigning RWC Sevens winners New Zealand play Colombia, top seeds Australia take on debutants Madagascar, and hosts South Africa face Olympic silver medallists France.
Women’s teams qualified either via finishing in the top four at the last RWC Sevens in 2018, and through regional qualification tournaments. Men’s teams qualified by finishing in the top eight at the last RWC Sevens in 2018, and via regional qualification tournaments. Madagascar and Poland women are making their Rugby World Cup Sevens debuts.
The seedings for both men’s and women’s competitions were based on points accrued during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2020 and 2022, while teams who do not participate on the Series were seeded using their rankings gained at World Rugby Sevens events and regional ranking positions ending in July 2022.
The eighth men’s and fourth women’s edition of Rugby World Cup Sevens represents the first Rugby World Cup of any kind since the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup when South Africa were victorious on home soil as President Nelson Mandela handed the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar to inspire the Rainbow Nation.
Siviwe Soyizwapi, captain of South Africa men said: “For us as a team we’re just chasing perfection. This is a standalone tournament, a massive tournament in front of our home crowd and we’re really excited for that.
“The fact that it is a knockout tournament doesn’t change the mindset for us. We are focused on getting the perfect game and we focus on ourselves as a team and the standards that we uphold. We are chasing that perfect game from game one.
“To be double would champions [alongside South Africa Men XV] would be massive. It would be great for the nation. We all know what rugby can do for our country. This our first home sevens rugby since 2019 here in Cape Town so as players and a team, the whole system is excited to run out there this weekend and represent our country. We know how the crowd can get behind us and the fans will really make this tournament. As a team we are really excited.”