The elite international Rugby Sevens tournaments have a limited number of teams. Numbers range from 12 teams at the Olympics to 24 teams in the Hong Kong Sevens.
However, far more countries play international sevens rugby at regional tournaments across all continents.
How Many Countries Play Sevens Rugby?
You may be surprised to learn how many countries have international rugby sevens teams.
Over seventy countries have competed in international rugby sevens tournaments across the world. Although countries in Europe, Oceania, and North America dominate the elite level of competition, sevens rugby is played across Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.
This article looks at the breakdown of countries by continent.
North America, Central America, And The Caribbean
The two biggest sevens tournaments on the North American continent are the USA Sevens and Canada Sevens tournaments. As these tournaments are part of the World Series, the top Sevens countries from across the world arrive to compete.
However, there are other international sevens tournaments held across the two American continents. It may surprise you to see our list of countries that play international sevens rugby.
Because of the way the tournaments are organized, I’m going to split the North Americas into two parts. The most northern part consists of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. The second part covers Central America and the Caribbean.
Sevens Tournaments In The Americas
The tournaments have changed their names over the years, but the countries tend to stay the same!
One of the early tournaments was known as the North America And West Indies 7s. The event then became the North America Caribbean Rugby tournament. It is now known as Rugby Americas North Sevens.
South America had a major sevens tournament called the CONSUR Sevens. It is now called the Sudamerica Rugby Sevens tournament.
Which Countries Play Rugby Sevens In North America
First of all, it’s not just the USA and Canada that play sevens rugby in North America. It’s just that these two countries compete at the top level of the sport.
Mexico has a strong tradition in Rugby Sevens and fields an international team. They have successfully qualified for World Series tournaments by topping regional North American tournaments.
Which Central American Countries Play Rugby Sevens?
Countries in Central America may not play in the elite World Series tournaments. However, many compete regularly in the regional tournaments for both South America and Central America/ the Caribbean.
These Central American countries have international sevens rugby teams:
- Costa Rica
The Colombian Womens’ Sevens team qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela competed in the 2019 South American sevens tournament to attempt to qualify for the Olympics in Japan.
Which Caribbean Countries Play Rugby Sevens?
You may quibble over my placement of countries in the Caribbean instead of Central or South America.
Also, some of these beautiful places technically are territories as opposed to countries. They may also compete in the British Commonwealth Games.
These Caribbean countries and territories play international rugby sevens:
- Cayman Islands
- Trinidad and Tobago
Barbados hosts a fantastic club sevens tournament. The national team played in the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 2014, with a mix of students and players with full-time jobs.
Bermuda has been sending a national team to Sevens tournaments since 1996. All-time sevens great Fijian Waisale Serevi has coached Bermuda for several years.
The Jamaican men sevens team won the Rugby Americas North tournament in 2017. The women’s team played in the Hong Kong tournament that same year.
Which South American Countries Play Rugby Sevens?
The Sudamerica Sevens Tournament is the major tournament in South America.
Argentina topped the tournament from 2006 to 2015, with the exception of one year when Uruguay took the crown.
There was a shake-up when the tournament changed its name, and also invited some teams from other regions to take part. This included Fiji, Portugal, and a South African academy team.
Fiji and the South African team won the South American tournament in 2017 and 2018 respectively. But in 2019, Chile had a fantastic run of games to top the event.
These South American countries have international rugby sevens teams:
Which Asian Countries Play Rugby Sevens?
I’m including Oceania in this list, which of course has rugby sevens giants Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. The islands of Samoa and Tonga also have a strong tradition in sevens.
Countries in the Middle East are also in this section as they are within the continent of Asia and have played in Asian tournaments.
In recent years, Japan has been the most successful Asian country at international level in rugby sevens.
Singapore hosts one of the tournaments in the World Sevens Series. Their national sevens team is not part of the elite set, but they compete in regional tournaments.
There are several regional sevens tournaments across Asia that from the Asian Sevens Series.
These Asian countries play international sevens rugby:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
Which European Countries Play Rugby Sevens?
Traditionally, the European countries that were strong in the fifteens game would also compete in the Sevens at World Series level.
The exception was Ireland until recent years when they have invested in their sevens program.
But European sevens rugby is far from being just the Six Nations countries of England, France, Italy, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
Spain and Portugal also have strong traditions in sevens rugby at international level.
There are several tournaments held across Europe as part of a European Sevens series. The overall series has changed name several times. It used to be called the Grand Prix and is now the Rugby Europe Championship.
These European countries have interntional sevens rugby teams:
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I’ve asterisked England, Scotland, and Wales as they combine as the United Kingdom when competing in the Olympics sevens tournament.
Which African Countries Play Sevens Rugby?
South Africa is one of the strongest sevens teams in international rugby. But the continent also has other countries with international sevens teams.
Kenya also competes at elite level and won the 2016 Singapore sevens when they beat Fiji in the final.
The Africa Sevens tournament is a qualifier for World Cup Sevens ( a level below the World Series) and also the Olympic Games.
These African countries play international sevens rugby:
- South Africa