Due to the COVID-19 pandemi, the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) and World Rugby have announced that the Hong Kong Sevens tournament has been moved to November in 2021.
Organisers have said that moving the usual April competition to November will give Hong Kong Rugby Union a better chance of pushing through with the sought after series.
Due to the wrath of the Covid-19 Pandemic its original date was April 2-4 before the move to November 5-7, 2021. The Hong Kong Rugby Union had to cancel the 2020 tournament due to the initial outbreak.
“Given increasing infection rates both at home and abroad, ongoing travel restrictions and quarantines, it was felt that the environment remains too uncertain to support hosting the event next April,” read a statement.
World Rugby has also confirmed that the Hong Kong Sevens tournament will be the final leg for the HSBC Sevens Series 2020-2021. It’s expected that the usual games will resume by 2022, with HK 7s returning to its original month of April.
“We are disappointed at not being able to proceed with our detailed operational planning for April, but will press ahead with planning for November, when we hope that global vaccination efforts may support the easing of travel quarantines and local gathering restrictions and enable us to host the type of Sevens to which fans the world over are accustomed,” HKRU chief executive Robbie McRobbie said.
“Absence, we hope, makes the heart grow fonder, so we are confident that a November Sevens will ensure a very unique, if long delayed, celebration of the 45th Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong
The tournament is unfortunately to be set outside of its traditional spring window for the first time in its 45-year history.
Only six rounds were held last year due to the cancellation of the four remaining competitions in the HSBC Sevens Series, resulting in both the New Zealand men’s and women’s team winning the Championship title.
McRobbie told the South China Morning Post, that the tournament would only go ahead if at least 50 per cent of the stadium could be filled with spectators.
“We’ve always said that an event with no crowd makes no sense for us,” McRobbie said.
“That’s the nature of our commercial model.
“We don’t make any money from broadcast – that goes into the central pool with World Rugby – so we are very reliant on bums on seats and sponsors, patrons and corporates in the stadiums.
“We have done the figures and know what number crowd we need to get to the stadium.
“As long as we’ve got 50 per cent or more, the event makes commercial sense for us.
“That’s what we’ll be working towards, the benchmark of 50 per cent, below it and we would need to reconsider.”