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28 Captains Get Set For Dubai

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28 Captains Get Set For Dubai

Photo: World Rugby.

World Rugby is calling it a dawn of a new era for rugby sevens; really what it is is a reset, but it's still an important reset.

After trying to run Men's and Women's HSBC Sevens World Series events separately (with some exceptions), the events will be largely combined this season.

The captains of the 16 men's teams and 12 women's teams playing this weekend in Dubai got together to show us what that means.

The Dubai Sevens kicks off the men’s competition for the 2020 season and is the second tournament for the women after their season opener in Glendale, Colo. (won by the USA) in October.

The Women's World Series will feature eight tournaments, an increase over last year, with six being in partnership with men's events at the same time and venue (Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Paris). Two women's events—Glendale, Colo. and Langford, BC—are stand-alones. Four men's events—Los Angeles, Vancouver, Singapore, and London—are stand-alones.

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All but three teams have qualified for the 2020 Olympics. Two women's teams and one men's team will qualify from the repechage tournaments in June. But just because they've qulaified doesn't mean any teams will take it easy.

"I think momentum is important," said New Zealand women's team star Tyla Nathan-Wong. "Obviously the big goal for everyone is the Olympics next year but you've got to take it tournament by tournament and appreciate and enjoy those milestones along the way. For us, that's what we're looking forward to - enjoying the journey first, experiencing each tournament and then we'll eventually get to Tokyo."

In a first for the Dubai Sevens, all 64 men’s and women’s games will be played on the main pitch, and as the new core men's team on the circuit after winning last season's qualifier in Hong Kong, Ireland's captain Billy Dardis says his team are excited about the upcoming season: "It's massive for us as a group and for Irish rugby. We've been building up to this over the past four or five years - a lot of hard work has gone in and it all comes up to now. We're looking forward to getting out onto the pitch and to getting stuck into USA on Thursday night."

Olympic gold medalists and reigning men's world series champions, Fiji will be looking to replicate their successful form this season. "We love what we do, we know it's tough and it will be tougher than last year. When you are world champions it is very hard to stay at that level, but it's a good challenge for the boys," said captain Paula Dranisinukula.


The action gets underway at 14:50 local time on December 5.