World Rugby cancels 2020 HSBC 7s season, New Zealand declared winners

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 15: New Zealand team posing with the trophy during day 3 of the 2019 HSBC Cape Town Sevens final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Cape Town Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: New Zealand team posing with the trophy during day 3 of the 2019 HSBC Cape Town Sevens final match between South Africa and New Zealand at Cape Town Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

New Zealand were declared the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners after World Rugby decided to end the 2019/2020 season early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Rugby said both New Zealand teams were awarded both titles by virtue of being top of their respective standings before the pandemic interrupted the Series. In the men’s Series, six out of 10 legs were played while in the women’s Series, five of the eight women’s rounds were played.

“The decision follows detailed and constructive dialogue with the host and participating unions, and has been taken with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public as top priority, and in line with the relevant national government and public health authority advice,” World Rugby said in a statement.

As a result, two-time winners South Africa and Olympic champions Fiji finished second and third respectively in the men’s Series while Olympic champions Australia and Canada finished second and third respectively in the women’s Series. The statement added that there will be no relegation from both Series this year.

To that effect, World Rugby also announced the cancellation of the Series legs in Langford, London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In February, World Rugby announced the rescheduling of the Singapore Sevens to take place between October 10 and 11, while the Hong Kong Sevens would complete the 2020 series on October 16-18.

Japan, meanwhile, qualified for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 as the 16th core team after being declared winners of the inaugural men’s Challenger Series. Japan led the standings after the two completed events, winning gold and bronze in the two rounds that took place earlier in 2020 in Chile and Uruguay.

World Rugby added that there will be no promotion to the women’s Series in 2020 as the inaugural Challenger Series event originally scheduled for late March in Stellenbosch, South Africa, did not happen.

World Rugby said that there will be adjustments for the seedings for the Tokyo Olympic Games to include results from the 2021 Series. This will ensure they provide the “most robust and accurate representation of current form” when the Games are staged in July 2021.

“Congratulations to New Zealand on being awarded both the women’s and men’s Series titles following their outstanding and consistent performances prior to the onset of the pandemic, and to Japan for being crowned champions of the inaugural Challenger Series and securing a core place on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021,” World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.

World Rugby said that information on the start of the 2021 Series will be availed in due course.

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