New Zealand handed pair of sevens titles; Japanese men promoted

Tanya Simon
July 2, 2020

The remaining tournaments, due to be played in Langford, London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong, will not take place.

In the men's Series, the 2018 champions South Africa finish in second place with Olympic and 2019 Series champions Fiji in third.

With five men's rounds and six women's rounds having already been played, New Zealand was awarded the title on both circuits.

World Rugby said the decision was taken after discussion with member unions with the health of players and staffs given top priority. But, with no end in sight to the Covid-19 pandemic and infection numbers rising in many countries, World Rugby has made an expected and inevitable decision to call a premature end to the Sevens Series, cancelling the remaining tournaments.

The southern hemisphere-based Super Rugby competition has also been suspended and temporarily replaced with domestic tournaments in New Zealand and Australia.

World Rugby cancelled the remainder of both the men's and women's World Sevens Series on Tuesday because of the coronavirus outbreak and awarded the titles to New Zealand.

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"While this probably isn't the way the teams would have liked to claim the series titles, it is a reflection of the impressive form they were in", New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson said. Its men's team won three of the six tournaments that went ahead, while the women's team had won four out of five.

New Zealand Rugby's women's sevens co-coach said his team were preparing for the possibility of not being able to play any global teams ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics, but was confident their planning would help in trying to win gold. The Challenger Series was launched by World Rugby this year to boost rugby sevens' development across the globe, particularly in emerging nations.

"We thank our union, commercial and broadcast partners for their continued support and solidarity during this hard time".

Title sponsor of the event, HSBC, have given their backing to the decision.

International Rugby Players' head of legal and player welfare, David Quinlan, said: "Players are naturally disappointed at today's announcement..."

The 21-year-old Clarke was a key figure in the New Zealand squad's consistent performances this season and has since enhanced his status as a star player thanks to his superb displays for the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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