Rugby Sevens: Hamilton tournament becomes casualty of World Rugby's 're-imagining' of world series

World Rugby is poised to scrap the New Zealand sevens tournament, as part of its revamp of the shortened format's world series.

Next month's Hamilton event will be the first since 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a two-year hiatus - but it will now also be the last in the foreseeable future, as the international body cuts the number of tournaments on its calendar.

The decision will end New Zealand's 23-year presence on the world circuit, dating back to the Wellington tournament that formed part of the inaugural edition in 2000.

The All Blacks Sevens have won their home event 10 times, while the Black Ferns Sevens took out the inaugural women's title two years ago.

Party-time at the Hamilton Sevens
Party-time at the Hamilton Sevens. Photo credit: Photosport

"With a strong history of hosting sevens world series tournaments in New Zealand, NZ Rugby expressed interest in hosting one of the seven tournaments in targeted dialogue with World Rugby," said NZ Rugby professional rugby & performance general manager Chris Lendrum.

"However, World Rugby has recently confirmed that New Zealand will not be one of the seven locations hosting the sevens world series under the new format, making the upcoming Hamilton tournament the last of its kind.

"I want to acknowledge all those involved in the tournament over the past 23 years, especially our partners and more recently 37 South - the co-promoter of the current Hamilton Sevens.

"NZR wants regular opportunities for All Blacks and Black Ferns sevens players to play at home in front of our fans, and with that in mind, we are now beginning to explore other potential avenues to achieve this in the future."

World Rugby's new vision for the shortened game will see its world series reduced to "seven rounds in seven iconic global destinations across seven months". Presumably, it doesn't regard New Zealand's 'City of the Future' in that company.

Each tournament will feature both men's and women's competitions, which isn't currently the case, with each draw contested by just 12 teams, aligning with the Olympic model.

A second-tier 'challenger' competition will set up a promotion-relegation scenario at the end of each series, while men and women will receive equal participation fees.

"The re-imagined sevens world series will be a gamechanger for the global growth of the game," said World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin. "Research insights have demonstrated that sevens plays a vital role in reaching and engaging new rugby fans, particularly in emerging rugby nations and with younger audiences.

"World Rugby is fully committed to the sustainable growth, innovation and success of rugby sevens as a highly impactful and successful Olympic sport with a bright future."

Over its history, New Zealand have won more world series than any other participating nation - 13 men's crowns and six women's titles.