The Sydney Sevens is a coronavirus casualty with the 2021 World Series rugby tournament cancelled, forcing Australia’s Olympians to seek alternatives to prepare for the Tokyo Games.
The Sydney leg, as well as the the New Zealand tournament, set down for Hamilton early next year, have both been cut by World Rugby, it was announced on Tuesday.
In March, World Rugby postponed all remaining tournaments in the 2020 series due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby hope to play in several regional Oceania Sevens tournaments in early 2021 for the men’s and women’s teams ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
The Australian women will look to defend their Olympic title won in Rio in 2016.
World Rugby has confirmed the 2021 HSBC Sydney Sevens will not take place due to the ongoing and dynamic global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.https://t.co/TZU0QuzywJ
— Rugby Australia (@RugbyAU) September 1, 2020
Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said it was disappointing but the health of players and spectators was the priority.
“Rugby Australia and World Rugby have prioritised the health and wellbeing of our players, and our fans, in this decision but we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Sydney in 2022,” Clarke said in a statement,
World Rugby said the decision was “in line with relevant government and international public health authority advice”.
They will try and play the other legs of the tournament – starting in April with Hong Kong and Singapore.
World Rugby has announced a funding boost of US$2.5 million to optimise teams’ Olympic preparations for Tokyo Gameshttps://t.co/Hww8deX8u1
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) September 1, 2020
Meanwhile, World Rugby announced it would provide a $US2.5 million ($3.37 million) grant to support Olympic-qualified teams prepare for the Games.
Australia’s Sevens programs have been hit with funding reduced due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the world game.
Given both the men’s and women’s teams have qualified for Tokyo, they could hope to pick up $135,000 each to aid their preparation.
“Each union that has qualified a team for the Tokyo 2020 Games will be able to apply to World Rugby for funding which can be directed towards rugby sevens squad training camps, competition support, technical and sports science and medical programs,” World Rugby announced.