HSBC SVNS MAD: Standout pool matches

Following the announcement of the schedule for the HSBC SVNS 2024 Grand Final in Madrid, we take a look at some of the fixtures that could shape the weekend.

Following seven scintillating tournaments across four continents, HSBC SVNS 2024 will draw to a close with the inaugural Grand Final in Madrid between 31 May-2 June.

Sixteen teams will travel to the Spanish capital with hopes of ending the weekend as SVNS Championship winners, while eight men’s and eight women’s squads will also compete for their place on next year’s series.

But it is not only the action on the lush turf of Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano that will keep those inside the magnificent arena entertained.

Madrid is set to host a unique festival of sport, music, food, fitness and immersive experiences in what promises to be rugby sevens’ biggest ever party.

Fans can savour local delicacies at the HSBC SVNS MAD food market, enjoy a sundowner at the iconic beach club and then party all night to the sounds of resident DJs, including Luc Loren, and live acts such as Ptazeta and Chanel.

It should be the perfect accompaniment to a thrilling weekend of sevens, and Thursday’s fixture schedule announcement has only heightened excitement.

Below we take a look at some of the matches set to take place across the first two days in Madrid that will leave your heart beating faster than a Luc Loren bassline.


Day one

Nothing sets pulses racing in rugby sevens quite like the meeting of the shortened format’s two most successful men’s teams, New Zealand and Fiji.

Fans will be treated to the latest instalment of this intense rivalry when they go head-to-head in the men’s Championship Pool B on Friday (kick-off 14:14 local time, GMT+2).

It has not been a straightforward season for either defending champions, the All Blacks Sevens, or the Flying Fijians but both will arrive in Madrid with their sights set on the Championship trophy.

And their opening match of the weekend looks to be a blockbuster. The All Blacks Sevens have won three of the teams’ four encounters in SVNS 2024 but each of those matches have been decided by seven points or fewer.

In Hong Kong last month New Zealand needed second-half tries from Xavier Tito-Harris and Tone Ng Shiu to claim a come-from-behind 19-12 Cup quarter-final victory.

The standout match on day one of the women’s Championship tournament will kick-off at 18:19 local time when North American rivals USA and Canada meet in Madrid.

USA finished one place and five points clear of Canada in fourth in the regular season standings, but this season’s head-to-head is level at three wins apiece.

Whoever emerges victorious in the teams’ seventh SVNS 2024 meeting will take a small step towards the Championship semi-finals, with matches against Great Britain and League Winners New Zealand to come.

Two teams hoping to be in those squads’ shoes next year are Japan and China, who meet in the women’s Play-off tournament at 20:30 local time on day one.

China were peerless in the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024, taking the maximum 60 points from three tournaments, but Japan proved they can mix it with the best teams by reaching the Cup quarter-finals in the final two tournaments of the SVNS regular season.

In the men’s Play-off tournament, two proud series nations will face off on day one as Samoa take on Kenya at 17:25 local time on Friday.

Kenya haven’t beaten Samoa since December 2019, losing eight successive matches against the 2009-10 series champions, but will be keen to make a statement as they attempt to regain their place at the top table.

Day two

Second in the women’s regular season standings will meet third at 15:27 local time on Saturday when Australia take on France.

Narratives abound in a match-up that pits try machines Maddison Levi and Faith Nathan in opposition to Anne-Cécile Ciofani, Joanna Grisez and Séraphine Okemba.

As you might expect, their six meetings this season, which started with the Cup semi-final in Dubai, have been high scoring. Australia’s only defeat came in Vancouver in February, but the matches have been close, Tim Walsh’s side edging the average score 22-18.

The final match in women’s Championship Pool B, it could prove pivotal to both teams’ hopes of finishing their weekend in Madrid with silverware.

Later on Saturday, Australia’s men will bring the curtain down on the pool stage with a mouth-watering encounter with League Winners Argentina.

Los Pumas Sevens started SVNS 2024 in stunning form, finishing runners-up in Dubai before reeling off three successive tournament victories in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver.

Santiago Gómez-Cora’s side suffered a dip in form following injury to Marcos Moneta, but they possess quality throughout their squad, not least in Matías Osadczuk, Rodrigo Isgro and the wily Gastón Revol.

Australia, who finished the regular season fourth and beat Los Pumas Sevens in Singapore earlier this month, will sense their chance to lay down a marker for the Championship.

Nathan Lawson scored Australia’s third try in their 26-19 defeat of Argentina in Singapore and has been in prolific form this season.

Saturday will also be a crucial day for those teams hunting a place in SVNS 2025. And the penultimate match of Pool A in the men’s Play-off tournament will be a repeat of the final from the last round of the Sevens Challenger in Munich.

Uruguay won that match against Germany 21-19 – having beaten them 24-21 in the pool stage – but finishing as runners-up was good enough to seal the hosts’ ticket to Madrid.

And it was Germany who emerged victorious when the teams met in Montevideo in March, winning 26-19, suggesting Saturday’s match (kick-off 14:14 local time) could go either way.

In the women’s Play-off tournament, two of the sides who appeared on SVNS 2024 will hope to confirm their places in Sunday’s finals when they meet on day two (kick-off 13:51 local time).

Brazil finished 10th, one place higher than South Africa in the regular season standings, and lead the pair’s head-to-head this season by two wins to one.

However, that victory for the Springbok Women Sevens came in their most recent meeting, a 10-7 win secured by Nadine Roos and Ayanda Malinga tries in Los Angeles.

See the HSBC SVNS champions crowned in Madrid, 31 May-2 June. Tickets from €10 are available to purchase here