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Event Report: HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Sydney 2023

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Sydney 2023 Stadium
Hi, I’m James Cook, Senior Account Manager & Product Specialist in the OnePlan team, and I’m sharing a great experience I’ve had at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney recently. I was fortunate enough to be a guest of the organisers from Rugby Australia who did an incredible job using OnePlan for all their Site Planning. And what a party it was, with some great fancy dress!

About the event:

  • Event Owner: World Rugby
  • Venue: Allianz Stadium, aka Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
  • Local Organisers: Rugby Australia
  • Dates: Jan 27-29
  • Attendance: ~80,000 over 3 days
  • Weather: High 20s with High Humidity, Rain Showers, Chance of Lightning

Expert Clockwork & Logistics to make it all run smoothly

This event nerd correspondent has been involved with plenty of different types of events. Multi-sport, multi-team, multi-venue, multi-day but never have I seen such a challenge as 28 different teams all playing multiple matches on the same day sharing the same venue. 

For those of you not familiar with Rugby Sevens…and this version:

  • A 3-day tournament
  • Up to 30 matches a day on the same pitch
  • 2 halves of 7 mins 
  • 2 min Half Time
  • Consecutive matches every 22 mins
  • 16 Men’s Teams & 12 Women’s Teams
  • 7 players on the pitch at all times. 
  • 5 subs & 3 Extra Squad Players
  • 7 Coaches and Support Staff
  • Match Officials: 1 Main Ref and 2 Assistants on the Field, Subs, TV Match Officials and Citing.
Planning an event as complex as this requires effective planning to ensure everything runs smoothly. OnePlan helps you plan all your event operations in one place, in real-time, allowing you to collaborate with stakeholders and partners to ensure your event is as safe and successful as possible, and everyone is up to date on the latest plans.

Dedicated Team Spaces

Each participating team has to follow a very specific and tight run sheet and path to ensure the whole tournament runs smoothly. To support each team, 2 Team Assistant Volunteers are provided to each team to support them 24/7 during their stay in the host city.

Each Team is given a dedicated space in the stadium. So the organisers had to find 28 lockable separate spaces of at least 6 x 4 metres for the teams to get changed and prepare for their matches. No stadiums in the world have 28 dressing rooms – usually, it’s about 2 to 4 max.

The organisers here used temporary Wall Partitions to subdivide larger rooms to achieve this, managing to keep all the women’s teams close by on Ground Level in the Main Stadium and all the men’s teams on the Ground Floor in the SCG adjacent. 

Using OnePlan made these temporary structures and room, easier to plan and communicate with all stakeholders and relevant parties details about their rooms or facilities.

Other interesting planning and room requirements include:

  • Teams’ Registration – Teams must confirm here 20 mins prior to the kickoff of their team lineups.
  • Ball Kids – All the kids are charged with collecting spare balls 
  • Match Officials
  • Dining Area  – With over 600 high-performance athletes from all over the world, dietary restrictions, cultural considerations, and timings, providing enough fuel! – Player dining is not a simple thing. 
  • Media Working Zone and Tribunes – Journalists need a good space to work and a good view of the playing field to bring their stories to the world
  • Player Lounge – Players need a space to relax between games when not required by their teams.
  • Recovery Areas – (Allocation rotated for the teams coming off the pitch) – With Showers, toilets, massage and physio areas, Ice baths
  • Team Holding – The last space for the teams before they enter the Field of Play. Important to have toilets close by here for the last-minute “nervous pee”
  • Broadcast Spaces – Host broadcast to provide the broadcast feed and rights holders area for  
  • Stats Room – Increasingly used by Teams and Broadcast alike by monitoring GPS data from the Player’s jerseys.
  • TV Match Officials – Working closely with broadcast to show the right camera angles replay on the big screen for the on-field referee on request.
  • Citing Officials – Special room for the refs that analyse the footage and decide on penalties for players.
  • Comms Room – TO organise all the radios, batteries channels and sign-in/Sign out
  • Doping Control – Run independently by World Doping authorities need space to collect tournament samples.
  • Sports Presentation – in charge of the entertainment, ground announcements, music, presentation of teams, awards and trophies. 


Almost every event planner is constantly checking the forecast before and during their event and operations. I was looking forward to Sydney Summer warm weather for my time there. Unfortunately, I forgot about the humidity. Even though the temperature was only 27, it felt a lot warmer and less comfortable for players.

So much so, that even with the stadium AC running at full blast, it was too hot when so many players are put into a small space. So the event operator had to do a quick run to the hardware store and buy another 30 fans and portable AC units to keep the air circulating in the team areas and player comfort acceptable.

The amazing ops team here were also watching out for Lightning Strikes using the latest technology mobile apps. One of the few player conditions of rugby who are used to playing in the rain, hail or snow, is stopping play when lighting strikes.

Interestingly the HSBC Sevens tournament is almost exclusively played in summer conditions around the world and often tropical like Singapore, and Hong Kong so this would be a big factor to consider.

All events can be affected by weather including temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind, and lightning. We’d love to hear from different event organisers about what factors affect their event and how they mitigate them. Get in contact with us and message us here.

In VenueTwin, OnePlan’s 3D hyper-realsitic planning platform you can simulate different weather conditions in your virtual environment, preparing for a variety of different scenarios. 

Virtual Signage for Broadcast

Notice anything funny about these 2 images?

I kept looking at the pitch and then at the broadcast and realised something was missing.

There were no sponsor markings painted on the pitch. It is all down virtually. Amazingly the technology now allows the broadcast to change the pitch underlays and sponsor’s signs for a specific feed. Eg advertises a local brand to each country. I was amazed at how good the pitch markings looked  – so natural and real. Broadcast graphics for every sport and stadium has gotten more advanced every year. 

Event Branding & Signage

Venue Way-finding can be so complicated to work out. Each venue can create a new specific use case for different rooms & spaces. So we can’t rely on existing venue signage. Different stakeholders. Different paths even within these stakeholders. In this case 28 teams with slightly different client pathways. Internal signage doesn’t have to be fancy. Most importantly is that it is there and people can see it. I have always said that the Laminating machine is arguably the most important event operations tool.

So you can make last-minute signage to all your stakeholders to find their destinations.

Each Team has a guided Venue Familiarisation Tour prior to the event but still must be given guidance with stakeholder maps and routes.

One of the closest partners CSM Live is a specialist in Event Branding & Signage. They have worked on every major event worldwide and have great insight into the importance of good signage and value for sponsors of good branding. 

In summary, I found this to be a brilliantly delivered event, and expertly planned for the 28 different teams all playing multiple matches, which was made even easier with clear signage and way-finding precisely plotted throughout the stadium. 

Thanks to the team in Sydney for inviting me along!

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