The IRB have announced the pools and match schedule for the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Gold Coast Sevens.
In just over one month, the tournament will be staged for a third time at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, where hosts Australia have been drawn to face Samoa, Argentina and Scotland in pool play on day one on Saturday 12 October. Australia will be attempting to win a home Sevens title for the first time since 2002 in Brisbane.
As defending HSBC Sevens World Series champions, New Zealand head Pool A in Australia and will face Kenya, USA and regional qualifiers Tonga, who are the only non-core team.
Last season's runners-up South Africa line up top of Pool B and face matches against a triumvirate of European challengers, England, France and Spain.
Defending Gold Coast champions Fiji head Pool C and face matches against Wales, Canada and Portugal.
As the fourth-ranked team in 2012/13, the Samoans are the top seed in Pool D and face hosts Australia, Argentina and Scotland.
The IRB's new General Manager for Rugby Sevens Avan Lee who was present at the draw in London believes that the Gold Coast event marks the start of the three most important seasons for the sport.
"This is a pivotal time for Rugby Sevens with three years until our debut at the Olympic Games and the Gold Coast is an exciting and eye-catching place for the HSBC Sevens World Series to kick off," he said.
"The Series is growing as a sporting brand all the time, attracting hundreds of thousands through the turnstiles around the world and millions more on TV. Working with the Australian Rugby Union and the eight other hosts I'm sure we're in for another superb season."
While the top four seeds for the Gold Coast draw were based on the final Series standings for 2012/13, during the rest of the 2013/14 season the teams will be placed and drawn as follows:
- The Cup winner, runner-up, 3rd-placed and 4th-placed team at each round will be placed top of Pools A, B, C and D respectively for the next round, then
- Teams placed fifth to eighth will be drawn into Band two, with the first drawn team allocated second in Pool A, then B etc
- Teams placed ninth to 12th will be drawn into Band three, with the first drawn team allocated third in Pool A, then B etc
- Teams placed 13th, 14th, 15th, together with the one invitational team, will be drawn into Band 4, with the first drawn team allocated fourth in Pool A, then B etc.
For Round One of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2013/14, the Gold Coast Sevens, teams were placed and banded based on the final standings of the 2012/2013 Series.
Pools for the Gold Coast Sevens:
Pool A: New Zealand, Kenya, United States, Tonga
Pool B: South Africa, England, France, Spain
Pool C: Fiji, Wales, Canada and Portugal
Pool D: Samoa, Australia, Argentina and Scotland
With thanks to the IRB