SAN FRANCISCO – Supporters can now plan their trip to San Francisco for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 as the tournament organisers have confirmed that the three-day festival of world-class rugby will be held from 20-22 July next year.
The iconic AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, will provide the spectacular backdrop to the tournament that features 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams competing for the title of world champions. The 42,000-seater stadium is one of the most familiar and highly rated sports venues in the USA and is located in downtown San Francisco, along the waterfront overlooking the bay.
This will be the seventh staging of the tournament, which has previously been held in Edinburgh, Hong Kong (twice), Mar del Plata, Dubai and Moscow. Having won both the men’s and women’s events at the famous Russian venue of Luzhniki Stadium, New Zealand will be back to defend their titles but will likely face considerable resistance in the form of Olympic gold medallists, Australia (women’s) and Fiji (men’s), not to mention strong home competition from both USA sides.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Announcing the exact dates of the tournament is an important stage of preparation as it means that supporters can really start to plan their trip. With three days of amazing rugby action on offer, coupled with everything else San Francisco and surrounding area has to offer, it could really be the holiday of a lifetime for rugby fans around the world.
“The success of rugby sevens at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio gave the game a huge shot in the arm and we are working hard to ensure its popularity continues to rise in the coming years. Part of that is building on the success of previous RWC Sevens tournaments, which come at the mid-point in the Olympic cycle. This will be the first time the RWC Sevens has been held in North America and I know rugby fans in the USA and also in Canada are really looking forward to it.”
USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne said: “We are proud to play host to the Rugby World Cup Sevens. This event will bring the world’s best and put them in front of a large audience of rugby fanatics and showcase our great sport to a new batch of sports fans. We’re equally excited that this great tournament will be played in our backyard and in front of our youth, inspiring the next group of rugby stars.”
The top eight men’s teams (plus hosts USA) and the top four women’s teams from RWC Sevens 2013 qualify automatically. The remaining qualification places will be filled through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 (men’s and women’s) as well as through the six regional tournaments.