Tuesday, July 18, 2017

World Rugby Releases, Hides RWC Sevens Format

NOTE: It appears the format part of the RWC Sevens website has been taken down. Maybe after the negative reaction the below changes received they are taking another look.

World Rugby has switched around the format for next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and it's.....interesting. Gone is the pool play format used at previous World Cups, the Olympics, and the Sevens Series. Instead, the tournament will be a straight knock-out round style competition where the top eight teams receive a bye in the first round.

The graphic below is a breakout of how the tournament might go:

Take the jump to read more.
Ben Corbett, an authority on all things sevens has a breakdown of how this might shake out. 

In essence the teams that finished in the top eight in Moscow in 2013 receive a first round bye, not the teams that finished in the top eight on the Sevens Series. That means the U.S. would not get a bye but based on Sevens Series ranking would be the top rated team not receiving a bye. This format is very unlikely to provide upsets in the first round but it does increase the stakes in the next round.

The women's tournament is a straight knock-out tournament beginning with all 16 teams involved in the first round.

It's unclear the reason for the change. However, a look at the schedule shows neat blocks of time that could be good for TV. That, however, is just speculation. Both the men's and women's tournament will see most teams play two matches on Friday. After that it gets more sparse. For example. If you are Fiji and you go on to win the tournament you would play one match on Friday thanks to a bye, one of Saturday, and then two on Sunday. It's an unusual format for players to say the least. If you are a team that will play for the Bowl you could similarly only play three matches. Only a few teams will get six matches like they would in a traditional weekend.

The early reaction from players and coaches was mostly negative. Some questions why players and coaches weren't consulted in the changes while others wondered what was the point of sending some of the minnow nations if they were only going to be given one bite at a relatively top team.

The format could have more thrills than a typical tournament. Gone are the meaningless pool matches when one team has already qualified. Instead every match will be heavy pressure for the favorites. At the same time it quickly relegates smaller nations to rounds most likely won't watch.


  1. Even though we get screwed, I don't mind the format. After our poor opener against Argentina in the Olympics, it may be good to get blooded in an early match. And I actually see some teams that may get surprised in the first round. Samoa and Canada may have their hands full

    1. If they are going to eliminate pool play then they should do a double elimination format so every team at least plays 2 games and lets the in form teams potentially overcome the outdated seedings by getting a chance to play back in ... in this seeding US would face SA in the QF when based on the WS standings they shouldn't meet until the Semis ( if all seeds hold serve ) where a losing to SA still gives tehm a shot at bronze

  2. Also removing 2 watchable games from the dockets of the 'best' teams by removing pool play? Yes, pool play often includes one throwaway game, but there have also been some hidden gems in recent years.