The best 12 men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams in the world have arrived in Vancouver, Canada for the highly anticipated fourth round of HSBC SVNS 2024.

Some of the world’s fittest and fastest Olympic athletes will battle it out over three days of intense, non-stop rugby sevens action in front of a famously noisy and vibrant crowd under the roof at BC Place on 23-25 February.

Play gets under way at 11:30 local time (GMT-8) on Friday and there will be extra excitement as Antoine Dupont – World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year award winner in 2021 – is expected to make his SVNS debut for France when they face USA in their opening pool match at 14:36.

France men’s captain Paulin Riva said: “We are feeling good. We want to build the season towards the Olympic Games in Paris. Last year we had a great time in Vancouver reaching the final and this year we want to win. It’s a great atmosphere in BC Place. Having Antoine playing with us is very good for the French team and for rugby sevens. The Olympic Games is very important for us and for the country. We want to try and catch the gold medal.”

The captains of all 24 teams were warmly welcomed to Vancouver on Wednesday by Chief Wayne Sparrow as part of a special ceremony at the Musqueam Cultural Centre.

Argentina lead the men’s SVNS title race, having claimed two gold and one silver medals from the opening three rounds. Argentina top the standings on 58 points with a 14 point gap over Fiji and Australia behind them on 44 points.

Australia have been the dominant force in the women’s competition so far and hold a 12 point lead in the standings after three rounds. Australia are on 58 points, ahead of New Zealand on 46, France on 44 and Ireland with 38 points.

In the men’s competition all conquering Argentina will face double Olympic champions Fiji, Spain and hosts Canada in Pool A. Australia are in pool B with France, USA and Samoa. A tough looking pool C includes Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Great Britain.

The women’s pools are equally competitive with Perth champions Ireland in pool A alongside New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. Current SVNS 2024 leaders Australia are in pool B with USA, Fiji and Japan. Pool D includes Great Britain, France, Spain and hosts Canada.

Australia women’s captain Charlotte Caslick said: “We were obviously disappointed with the defeat to Ireland in the final in Perth but this weekend we are focusing on our discipline and that’s a massive work on for us. We love playing in Vancouver, it’s such a fast field and that really suits our team. We’re trying to chase down that number one seed at the Olympics so every tournament counts towards that and we want to finish as high as we can at each round.”

Argentina men’s captain Santiago Alvarez said: “We are trying not to think too much about being in first place or feel the extra pressure. We are trying to just enjoy the process, towards the Olympic Games and focusing in our system and enjoying each day. We play with a lot of passion, it is the Argentinian way. We like Vancouver, the stadium is nice with the closed roof and the last two years were very good for us here so we will try to repeat that this weekend.”

Canada women’s captain Olivia Apps said: “We really love playing in front of our home fans, friends and family. BC Place is a unique stadium being closed and the atmosphere from the Canadian fans is awesome. It’s huge to have the women and men playing alongside each other at BC Place for the second year in a row. It’s hugely important for us to be able to play in front of young girls, it’s ultimately why we put on the jersey and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The new-look SVNS competition format means there will be more excitement, jeopardy and drama on the pitch than ever before and fans can look forward to a wealth of entertainment and fun around the venue too.

The HSBC SVNS 2024 features seven regular season events – in Dubai, Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore – before the Grand Final in Madrid.

The action in Vancouver gets under way at 11:30 local time (GMT-8) on Friday with pool play and the last match of the day kicks off at 20:46.

Play restarts at 10:15 on Saturday with the last round of pool matches before the quarter-finals take place from 15:55 and the last match kicking off at 19:28.

Finals day on Sunday will begin at 10:15 with the semi-finals from 11:59 and the event reaches its climax with the women’s and men’s finals at 16:43 and 17:23 respectively.