All you need to know about HSBC SVNS 2024

All roads lead to Madrid as HSBC SVNS 2024 continues in Cape Town this weekend.

Here we run through how the revamped rugby sevens competitions will work.

How many teams are involved?

Under the new model, SVNS delivers gender parity with all seven rounds leading into the Grand Final featuring combined men’s and women’s competitions involving 12 teams in each.

Which teams are taking part?

In the women’s competition, all six of World Rugby’s regional associations are represented with past HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners New Zealand and Australia flying the flag for Oceania along with the reigning Olympic bronze medallists Fiji.

Olympic Games Paris 2024 hosts France, Spain, Ireland and Great Britain make up the European contingent.

Africa is represented by South Africa, Asia has Japan to cheer on, while Brazil, Canada and USA are the three teams from the Americas.

In the men’s competition, all five former World Series champions are involved in New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Samoa and South Africa.

The European teams hoping to become the first northern hemisphere team to win the title are Ireland, France, Great Britain and Spain.

Canada and USA represent North America, which leaves South America powerhouses Argentina to complete the line-up.

All the teams qualified by virtue of their finishing position on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, bar Canada’s men who won a four-team play-off to retain their place among the elite and Japan’s women who qualified through winning the Sevens Challenger tournament in Santiago, Chile in August 2022.

How many tournaments are there?

Unlike previous seasons, the schedule for the men’s and women’s series is identical with seven tournaments taking place before the Grand Final in Madrid.

HSBC SVNS 2024 got underway in Dubai on the weekend of 2-3 December before stopping over in Cape Town the following weekend.

The first tournament of the New Year will be in Perth (26-28 January) and there will then be a month-long gap to enable fans to catch their breaths before Vancouver on 23-25 February.

HSBC SVNS 2024 remains in North America for the fifth tournament, with Los Angeles the destination on 2-3 March.

The long-established Cathay HSBC Hong Kong Sevens has its traditional opening weekend in April slot – 5-7 April this year – before the last regular-season stopover in Singapore on 3-5 May.

The HSBC SVNS 2024 champions will then be decided at the Grand Final in Madrid from 31 May-2 June.

Five of the tournaments – Perth, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore and Madrid – will be played over three days with the rest lasting two days.

What is the structure of each tournament?

Replicating the Olympic competition format, each tournament will have three pools with four teams in each. The winners and runners-up in each pool will progress through to the Cup quarter-finals along with the two highest-ranked third-place teams.

The winners of the quarter-finals will take their place in the semi-finals, while the two ‘best’ losers will play-off for fifth place and the other two for seventh place.

The winners of the semi-finals will meet in the final to decide the champion team, with the semi-final losers contesting the third-place play-off.

What’s the points-scoring system?

Points will be allocated as follows:

20 points – Cup winner
18 points – Cup runner-up
16 points – Third place play-off winner
14 points – Third place play-off runner-up
12 points – Fifth
10 points – Sixth
8 points – Seventh
6 points – Eighth
4 points – Ninth
3 points – 10th
2 points – 11th
1 point – 12th

How is the overall winner determined?

The 12 best men’s and women’s teams in rugby sevens will compete for the respective titles by accumulating points based on their finishing positions in each tournament. Trophies will be awarded to the leading men’s and women’s teams following the seven rounds of the regular season.

But unlike the old ‘first-past-the-post’ system, which saw the team with the highest points total declared the winner at the end of the series, the HSBC SVNS 2024 campaign will be given a climactic ending in Madrid.

The eight teams with the most points after the first seven tournaments will compete for the honour of being crowned inaugural HSBC SVNS champions. Points difference will be the first differentiator if any teams are level on points in the standings.

The eight qualifying teams will then be split into two pools of four with seedings based on their position after Singapore. Pool A will comprise the first, fourth, fifth and eighth-highest ranked teams after seven rounds of HSBC SVNS 2024, while the second, third,  sixth and seventh seeds will be in Pool B.

The winner of each pool will play the runner-up in the other pool in the semi-finals, with the podium positions decided by a final between the two semi-final winners and a third place final between the two losing semi-finalists.

The teams who finish third and fourth in their respective pools will compete in the fifth to eighth-place play-offs.

Can teams be relegated from HSBC SVNS?

Yes, there could be as many as four new teams competing in HSBC SVNS 2025, or the line-up could remain exactly the same.

Everything will hinge on an eight-team men’s tournament and an eight-team women’s tournament, comprising the bottom four teams in each of the SVNS 2024 competitions and the top four teams in each of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 competitions.

The eight teams will be placed into two pools of four teams based upon their SVNS and Challenger rankings. Each team will play their three pool opponents to establish their pool position. This will be followed by the winner-takes-all play-off match where the top positioned team in Pool A plays the fourth position in Pool B, second in Pool A plays third in Pool B and so on. The four play-off match winners will secure HSBC SVNS 2025 status.

The four teams defeated in the play-off matches will enter the qualification pathway for HSBC SVNS 2026 status, through the relevant regional championship and then through qualification to the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2025.

How does the Challenger series come into play?

HSBC SVNS aligns and interfaces more directly with the next level of international rugby sevens, the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger series, which also involves 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams.

The top four teams that will go forward to challenge for a place on HSBC SVNS 2025 on Grand Final weekend will be determined by performances at two tournaments in Dubai (12-14 January) and Montevideo, Uruguay, (8-10 March) and then at a standalone tournament in Krakow, Poland, for the women and Munich, Germany, for the men.

Europe provides three men’s Challenger teams in Portugal, Georgia and Germany, while South America (Uruguay and Chile), Africa (Kenya and Uganda), Asia (Japan and Hong Kong China) and Oceania (Papua New Guinea and Tonga) have two teams apiece. Mexico will fly the flag for North America.

Asia is the most heavily represented region in the women’s line-up with three teams in China, Hong Kong China and Thailand.

Africa’s women’s representatives mirror that of the men in Kenya and Uganda, and Papua New Guinea and Mexico are also present in both competitions.

However, the women’s teams from South America and Europe are completely different to the men’s with Paraguay and Argentina and Poland, Belgium and Czechia taking their place in the line-up.