With exactly 100 days to go until Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks off at the iconic Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, the match schedule has been announced, revealing some mouth-watering encounters for the thousands of spectators in the ground and millions more around the world to enjoy.
The teams have entered the closing stages as regards their preparations for the tournament with Wales’ men and Australia’s women gearing up to defend the titles they won in Dubai four years ago.
Part of that preparation is the HSBC Sevens World Series and the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series which are currently ongoing. The men are in Hong Kong this weekend for one of the highlights of the season while the women are looking forward to the China round of the women’s series, which takes place from March 30-31 in Guangzhou.
The schedule has offered up some potentially epic match-ups on all three days of the tournament. One of the men’s tournament favourites, Samoa, will kick things off on day one as they take on the always competitive Zimbabwe. Other highlights of the opening day’s entertainment will be the all-Pacific clash between Fiji and Tonga, England v Portugal, who have had some tough battles already this season, and then South Africa will take on the might of the home team, Russia, in front of a passionate Moscow crowd.
The intensity builds on day two as teams eye positions in the knock-out stages. Among the thrilling games in store, Samoa play Kenya, Fiji take on defending champions Wales, Australia face France and New Zealand are up against both USA and Canada. In the women’s event, champions Australia must play South Africa, while Canada take on New Zealand and England conclude the day by facing Russia.
The tournament will come to a pulsating finish on day three with the knockout stages ensuring that every match is absolutely crucial.
And as the excitement mounts among the teams, the buzz is also building among the ever-growing number of Rugby Sevens fans around the world as tickets are now on sale for the biggest Sevens event of the year in what is a new frontier for the world Game.
Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The teams know that these 100 days will fly by very quickly and so they are all busy making their final preparations for the tournament. Judging by the schedule, we are in for a treat of world-class Rugby Sevens on each of the three days of competition.”
“The way the Game is continuing to develop, I expect this Rugby World Cup Sevens to be the highest quality yet with skill, speed and fitness levels like never before, in both the men’s and women’s sections.”
Russia men’s team coach Aleksandr Alexeenko said: "I would like to take this opportunity to invite all Rugby Sevens fans to Moscow to experience Russian hospitality. In June, you will see it for yourself because it’s going to be a great event.”
“Today marks 100 days to go until the beginning of this year's RWC Sevens and it will be a big milestone for our team, me as a coach and my players. We are a little nervous as the responsibility is a little greater than normal but at the same time we are focused on what we need to do to show great results.”
“The RWC Sevens will be held for the first time in Russia, at the Luzhniki Stadium, one of the best sport's facilities in Russia. We hope to see a lot of fans from all over the world in Moscow. For Russia itself it will be one of the biggest and most important events in the entire year."
The decision to host the tournament in the Russian capital was part of the International Rugby Board’s development vision and commitment to grow the Game beyond its traditional heartlands. The fact it will be held at the iconic Luzhniki Stadium is a further boost for the tournament as such high-profile events as the Olympic Games and UEFA Champions League final have already been staged there.
The three-day event will be an incredible experience for sports fans from Russia and around the world as a top-level international Rugby tournament is staged in Moscow for the very first time.