Dthe oval ball of the rugby will be crossing again on the grass ofMetropolitan City in what will be the most important of the rugby events held so far in our country – two weeks for the ‘kick off’ because the event has been preparing for a long time and will be lived for days before-: the HSBC Sevens Series Finals, a double event in�dito for rugby and is another step in the consolidation of Spain as a destination for world rugby at the highest level.

The Sevens Series are the most important event in the Olympic rugby category: a world circuit of eight events in which the 12 best teams, in men and women, in the Olympic form of rugby. The oval sport returned to the Olympic Games in R�o 2016 in the form of Rugby Seven – it was materially impossible to fit a traditional XV competition into the event, but rugby could not continue outside the Olympic world any longer -: matches of 14 minutes, between seven players, maximum explosiveness and enormous physical and emotional demand. The tournaments last three days – like these finals – of continuous matches, one after another.

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New Zealand, Australia, France, Argentina, South Africa, Great Britain and all traditional rugby countries take part in them. And they have the important peculiarity that in them there are ascents and descents so the door is open to a progression that in traditional rugby is hindered by a ‘glass ceiling’ that is very difficult to break by emerging countries such as, for example, Espa�a. While the XV of the Lion and the Lionesses are forced to compete in ‘tier 2’. The Spanish Lions and Lionesses of Seven They do compete on an equal footing with the All Blacks Sevens and the rest of the great powers for years.

This tournament is one more step, we say, in the Spanish project of gain weight in international rugby, in which the experience and organizational capacity of Spanish sport is not a minor element. It could be said that the process began with the Madrid Seven, in January 2021, which was held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and was, on the one hand, the return to the international Sevens competition and also the first major international event held in Spain in times of pandemic. Organized by World Rugby and the Federaci�n Espa�ola at the Central, behind closed doors in accordance with current health regulations, the organizational complexity was great and World Rugby was satisfied with the result, especially considering that with this tournament the teams participating in Tokyo 2020 They began their Olympic preparation.

That opened the door to two dates from the Sevens Seriesorganized in Seville and Malaga in February 2022 also conditioned by the pandemic, which again resulted in the full satisfaction of all parties. Then came the match between XV of Le�ny the Classic All Blacks at the Metropolitano, already with 40,000 spectators in the stands…

These were the steps prior to the imminent Finals that will begin on May 30. In the organization of all these events participated Kiwihousethe promoter that is acting as a driving force in the implementation of rugby in Spain, and Paula Hern�ndez, who on behalf of World Rugby is now in charge of the organization of the Civitas Metropolitano event.

“This is the first time this type of event has been organized.”

Paula Hern�ndez, director of the HSBC Sevens Series Finals

Once you get into rugby you can’t get out.” says Paula. “After the Classic All Blacks game I started working at Atlético de Madrid, but I returned when World Rugby approached me to organize this event. It’s a privilege. In football you put 70,000 people in a stand every week, but in this event we are going to have 32 teams, 16 women’s and 16 men’s traveling from all over the world. And there is great expectation because this event is also new for rugby. It is the first time there are finals and there will be an absolute champion after playing a final. And it is also the last stop for everyone before the Olympic Games. The teams are going to come with their best starswith the entire squad because many are already going to stay in Europe for the Games. And in addition to the spectacle of sport, the public will be able to enjoy many things, music, gastronomy… We want people to know Seven, enjoy Seven, and have a good time “.

Paula highlights that this tournament is a collective effort that, at the same time, gives an idea of ​​the importance of the event: “I am the director but this is the work of the great team behind it. There is more than 100 people from World Rugbyand with experience in large events of all types involved in the tournament. Also the Federaci�n Espa�ola, which is our partner at the event development level. And the Atlético de Madrid. and the city of Madrid, which is providing all kinds of facilities… Everyone is very involved with this project, which is very complex. There are 32 teams for two weeks in Madrid and all the infrastructure. But everything will be up to par.”

“The teams are going to come with their best stars because they are already thinking about the Olympic Games.”

Paula Hern�ndez, director of the HSBC Sevens Series Finals

The show is top-notch: “the Seven players They are the fastest Olympic athletes, apart from the sprinters in athletics. They have to be able to give passes 15 metros, in motion, to a teammate who is also in motion and against the pressure of the rival. Defend with the same intensity. They are 14-minute games, two halves of seven. Everything is very fast, everything happens very quickly. The pressure is enormous. It combines speed, strength, skill… There are rugby purist people who are reluctant to open the door to Sevens, but Seven is a complete show that is opening doors all over the world and can be understood even by people who are not followers of classic rugby”.

Paula is one of those who believe that “rugby is the great unknown of sports. It’s not just what you see on TV or in the field. There is a lot behind it, the values, what everyone is taught. In no other sport do you find teams going together to the Third Half or to the mixed hobbies in the stands. I, who have played soccer, see that there is tension there even in games that have no interest. “And you come to rugby and see the fans, even in big games like the World Cup, mixing and interacting… It’s something else.”

For this reason, he believes that rugby will take root in Spain. “World Rugby is working with the Federation to create a structured, trained events team that has the capacity to continue organizing events in the future. For us this is the beginning of the path and in rugby the word we use is ‘Legacy’. In Spain we have had events that show that rugby has a place. Let us also remember that in Spain -2016- the club match was held with a larger audience: 99,124 people in Barcelona watching Racing 92 with Toulon. That showed that Spain could be there It has the capacity to move that audience. At first we are going to see a lot of international audiences, but we are a country that attracts international audiences. At World Rugby we are working to create the structure in Spain and provide tools to the Federation to create this structure. Hopefully we will be ready to see a XV World Cup here“.

Paula emphasizes the pioneering quality of this tournament. “We can take quotes from the Sevens Series as a model, but none of them have 32 teams. It will be something new for everyone, something that has never been experienced. The promotion and relegation promotion with the Challenger teams will be disputed within the Finals [donde tomar� parte Espa�a, en hombres y mujeres]. We have the World Rugby guidelines but we are walking a line and We are all learning together: World Rugby in the relationship with the federation, is organizing events of this type so that the structure can continue to be professionalized… I think that there is no model to follow, that we are all learning and it is the first time that We’ll see something like that. All”.

Thus, Paula points out a significant novelty that affects the public but involves many entities. The days will last from 12:00 to 21:00 and “it will be the first time that a sporting event in Spain You will have entry and exit through the doors throughout the session.. Because the spirit of sevens is that you can live the complete experience, of the party outside the stadium and also watch the games that interest you. That’s going to test everyone. Also for the police. Since rugby is the great unknown of sport, it was difficult to explain this to them. They work with regulations that are very restrictive because of the influence of football and it was necessary to explain to them what a rugby fan was like. With videos, with examples from other venues… It will be a first time for everyone.”

For us, this is the beginning of a journey.”

Paula Hern�ndez, director of the HSBC Sevens Series Finals

Obviously, this audience experience will be capital in the event: “World Rugby is committed to creating a festival. We have experiences for all types of audiences, There will be a party, rugby, music. There will be a beach rugby field, a university tournament, children’s tournaments, non-contact rugby, music, gastronomy and constant entertainment in a Fan Zone for which no ticket will be required. It’s about getting people closer, getting to know us, getting to know what rugby is, making it a sport for everyone and for everyone. We want people See what we have outside and imagine what will be inside. Because there will also be a stage inside the stadium. For World Rugby, rugby is the center and will always be the most important thing, but we take advantage of the fact that we have this window to open it to people so that they can enjoy our passion and our experience. We want to show a healthy lifestyle and another possibility of leisure. And, also, that the city of Madrid sees the importance of this. “We surely have the best infrastructure of the series here.”

And Paula Hernández does not forget that The Spanish teams, which will participate in men and women, will need the support of the stands. Its horizon is the fight to maintain the category. And for the men, shortly after, the play-off for Paris 2024. An important tournament at all levels.

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