Pending local government approval, Vancouver and Edmonton will both host HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series events in September.
The men’s tournaments, scheduled for Sept. 18-19 in Vancouver and Sept. 25-26 in Edmonton, are slated to kick off the pandemic-delayed 2021 World Series.
The women will also be returning to action before the end of this year, set to return on Oct. 2-3 in Paris, however, Island rugby fans will notice a glaring omission on the women’s schedule.
The Langford sevens tournament, which has been annually held at Westhills Stadium, will not be part of the women’s circuit this coming series.
The pandemic prompted the World Series to shut down after the men’s HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver in March 2020. A women’s event in Langford, scheduled for early May that year was one of the tournaments cancelled.
World Rugby says six men’s and four women’s rounds are scheduled in the final four months of 2021.
Last season, the men got in six of 10 planned tournaments and the women five of eight before the scheduled ground to a halt.
“BC Rugby fans everywhere have been waiting to cheer on our Canadian players since they last played at BC Place in March. We are thrilled to welcome the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series back to B.C., ” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “It is so exciting to be able to safely return to hosting large sporting events again – for the players, the workers and the fans. This is an important part of our province’s economic recovery and I can’t wait to see our National sevens team in action.”
The Vancouver stop will be held, following the tradition of the Canada Sevens, at B.C. Place. Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium will take over the following week.
“The health and well-being of players, fans and the wider community remains top priority and both World Rugby and the host organizations will work closely with the relevant national governments and health agencies to ensure the safe and secure delivery of the events,” World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said in a statement.
Rugby Canada said tournament logistics, including team invitations and stadium capacity, are being finalized.
Under Alberta’s reopening plan, it’s expected some 31,000 fans will be allowed each day at Commonwealth Stadium, it added. Capacity is expected to be restricted at B.C. Place.
Vancouver and Edmonton will join Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Cape Town in hosting tournaments on the men’s 2021 circuit.
The women’s season will feature events in Hong Kong, Dubai and Cape Town as well as Paris. While Langford isn’t on the post-pandemic series schedule, Canada Sevens organizers have hope that rugby will return to Langford next year.
“It’s shaping up to be a very busy fall for our teams and staff but combined with our recently announced 2023 Rugby World Cup qualification matches, what a way to bring international rugby back to Canada,” Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said in a statement.
“Hosting four events across three different provinces, combined with the return of our community game in most regions, is so encouraging for rugby and sport in Canada.”
Both the Canadian men and the Canadian women’s sevens teams are currently preparing for their next return to the pitch at the Tokyo Olympics.
With files to the Canadian Press