Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams will compete in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series next season.
Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby and Welsh Rugby Union have confirmed a common approach for the company.
The move was ratified and ordered by World Rugby to align the future direction of the governing bodies for sevens and the link to its Olympic status.
This means Great Britain will be a representative team in the World Series for both men and women, replacing England, Scotland and Wales for men and England for women, although each union will have its individual status at the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Championship is retained on qualification.
Respective unions and World Rugby are in talks about further playing opportunities for teams from England, Scotland and Wales.
Britain’s men won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics and finished fourth in Tokyo last year, while Britain’s women finished fourth both times.
However, the prospects for the men’s and women’s GB squads looked bleak a year before Tokyo as Britain’s sevens programs saw significant cuts.
Although funding was then raised ahead of the Olympics via a commercial partnership between the RFU, Scottish Rugby, the WRU and the National Lottery Promotion Fund, post-Tokyo uncertainty remained.
A statement released by the RFU said coaches and game squads would be confirmed ahead of the men’s World Series opening event in Hong Kong in November and the women’s start in Dubai the following month.
The statement added: “Mandating Olympic teams from the 2023/24 season means that all three unions recognize the importance of moving to GB from the upcoming campaign (2022/23) to launch this new era with GB as the representative team on the world to begin series goes ahead.”
RFU Performance Director Conor O’Shea said: “This is a landmark day for sevens.
“It’s the right way forward that gives Team GB a real chance to go to the Olympics with the right preparation, to compete on an equal footing with other Sevens programs and most importantly it allows all of us, staff and players To give security about the future of the program.
“We will now be working hard to finalize the structures in support of GB so we are ready to start the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Series with a bang and move towards Paris 2024 and beyond.”
Scottish Rugby High Performance Director Jim Mallinder added: “We are very aware of the Scottish heritage and passion for Rugby Sevens. As such we remain fully committed to a Scottish Sevens program to develop our players and coaches.
“Moving to a GB sevens team at the World Series will give Scottish players, both men and women, a unique opportunity to represent and compete on the largest global stage through the World Series and the Olympics.”
And WRU director of performance Nigel Walker said: “We will maintain male and female sevens programs in Wales to develop players and coaches and ensure there is a pipeline of talent culminating in the opportunity towards GB selection push and eventually compete in the Olympic Games. ”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/great-britain-rugby-football-union-welsh-rugby-union-jim-mallinder-hsbc-b2127303.html Great Britain men and women will feature in next season’s World Rugby Sevens Series