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The close of the highly successful World Cup Sevens left one unsettled dispute; whether World Rugby should utilize the past week’s knock out format for future World Cup events. Traditionally, sevens’ tournaments used round robin play with eight Men’s and Women’s teams advancing into the quarterfinal round. This meant that a one match loss in the pool did not always impede advancement and a chance for a medal.

Initially, the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco intended to implement the traditional round robin system but with forty-teams participating, it placed a burden on the event to schedule so many preliminary pool matches in three-days.

The solution was to put into action a knockout format, a familiar playoff method in the United States, best exemplified by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The one loss and out system would replace the multi-game pool play for this World Cup Sevens.

Australia Men and England Women were the first victims of the new system, the former defeated early by France, and the latter losing to Ireland.

World Rugby executives perceived that the knock out setup proved a success, citing fan enjoyment of “one and done” competition.

But some coaches and players dissented, including New Zealand Men’s Coach Craig Laidlaw. "I don't enjoy the format," he said. "Ultimately once you're through the first day, every tournament is straight knockout anyway. So, it's not actually any different from a rugby perspective. As a spectacle I'm sure everyone enjoyed it. But when you've got coaches and players' livelihoods at stake, and the format isn't quite what we're paid to do... It's an interesting question." 

World Cup 2018 Dream Teams


Naya Tapper, USA

Michaela Blyde, New Zealand

Lina Guerin, France

Portia Woodman, New Zealand

Evania Pelite, Australia

Anne Ciofani, France

Sarah Goss, New Zealand


Phil Burgess, England

Josefa Lilidamu, Japan

Harry Glover, England

Tom Mitchell, England

Joe Ravouvou, New Zealand

Dylan Collier, New Zealand

Tavite Veredamu, France