World Rugby Sevens Series returning to Hamilton in 2023 after two-year absence


International sevens action will return to Hamilton this summer after a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand Rugby announced the return of New Zealand’s biggest sporting party, where the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens will defend their respective titles, at FMG Stadium Waikato on 21-22 January 2023.

The resurrected Hamilton event, which returns to the World Rugby Sevens Series schedule after missing the 2021 and 2022 series, will feature the full men’s and women’s draws with all matches to be broadcast live and exclusive on Sky.

NZ Rugby’s head of tournaments and competitions Cameron Good said the announcement was a feel-good moment after two tough years for the events industry.

“The HSBC New Zealand Sevens has been one of the highlights of the sporting summer since it moved to Hamilton in 2018 and has left a gap in the events calendar over the past two years due to Covid. We are thrilled to be bringing a truly international sporting event back to Aotearoa, back to Waikato and back to Hamilton.

“It’s great news for the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens, who are desperate to play in front of their home fans again; it’s great news for the local and regional economies and it’s great news for all the fans out there who have made it such a vibrant and colourful celebration of sevens.”

Dallas Fisher, managing director of 37 South and co-promoter of the Hamilton tournament, said the news was a huge boost for the Waikato region.

“Mark the date in your calendar because the HSBC New Zealand Sevens is going to be the most entertaining weekend on the summer events calendar. We’ve seen from previous events that the sevens brings people together all parts of our community and in 2023 we are going to create a truly multicultural festival at FMG Stadium Waikato. I can’t wait to see that sea of Fijian flags flying in the stands again.”

Fisher said the tournament had injected about $3 million in new cash into the Waikato region’s economy during its first three editions in Hamilton and created numerous jobs both locally in Hamilton and across the region.

“It’s a major boost to the hospitality sector, local businesses, tourism and also the morale of the region. We’re proud to be event partners and we are looking forward to putting on another great sevens party in Hamilton.”

The 2023 edition of a tournament that’s been on the New Zealand sporting calendar for more than two decades will see the addition of second playing field next to FMG Stadium Waikato to enable the full men’s and women’s draws to be played over two action-packed days. Fans will be able to access both fields with plans for party zones, family zones, circus rides and world class food.

The New Zealand Sevens was last played in 2020 but has been missing from the World Rugby Sevens Series for the past two seasons as Covid played havoc with the international sevens schedule.

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said: “We are delighted that the HSBC New Zealand Sevens will be back in 2023. The players, teams and everyone involved with the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be excited by the prospect of returning to Hamilton to play in front of such knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate rugby fans.”

World Rugby will announce the full 2023 World Rugby Sevens series schedule in coming days.