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| 1 minute read

Hong Kong Sevens 2023 represents a step forward for women’s rugby

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 46th edition of the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens tournament. Despite the weather, tens of thousands of supporters from around the globe turned out to watch New Zealand triumph in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

While this was not the first tournament in Hong Kong since the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first to do away with restrictions such as requirements for wearing face masks in the stadium, as was the case when the tournament returned in November 2022. This made Hong Kong Sevens 2023 particularly attractive for fans of the tournament worldwide.

But most significant about this year’s event was the equal billing given to the women’s teams. This year, 12 women’s teams competed alongside 16 men’s teams during the three-day event. This is the first time in the tournament’s history that both the men’s and women’s tournaments have taken place simultaneously, making this Hong Kong’s first HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series event.

Women have taken part in the Hong Kong Sevens since 1997 but until this year, the women’s teams had always played at So Kon Po Recreation Ground (which sits in the shadow of the Hong Kong Stadium) with only the finals played at the Hong Kong Stadium. When the tournament returned to Hong Kong after the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2022, there was no women’s competition due to a scheduling clash with the World Cup, which makes this year's tournament even more significant.

This decision complements the major changes proposed by World Rugby for the World Rugby Sevens Series going forward. At the end of November 2022, World Rugby announced several changes to the format of the global tournament which are set to come into force at the end of 2023. The most significant of these changes is equal pay for both male and female athletes, with World Rugby set to pay unions the same amount for their men’s and women’s programmes.

These developments represent significant steps forward for women’s rugby sevens worldwide and it will be exciting to see whether these changes bring about increased participation and viewership as the women’s game gets greater financial support and coverage.


uk, rugby, sevensrugby, womensrugby, advertising, women in sport, sport