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Breaking Down the Rugby Sevens: Sydney 7s 2018

 

 

Image Credit: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images


7 minute halves. 7 players per team. One big field. That’s a recipe for exhilarating footy. It’s rugby sevens, and it’s back in Australia this summer.

The annual Sydney 7s is on centre stage at Allianz Stadium from 26th–28th January as part of the World Rugby Sevens Series, with 16 teams from around the world vying for the title.

We’ve already seen reigning men’s champions South Africa claim top honours at the Dubai 7s, before the New Zealand men’s team shaped up in the finals at the Cape Town 7s and took out the tournament. The women’s tournament in Dubai saw the Australians run away with it convincingly.

Whether you’re an avid rugby fan or you are just looking for a day out (and want to know what on earth is going on), here is a preview of Sydney 7s that you’ll find handy.

Breaking down the pools

MEN'S
Pool A – New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Russia

Seeing New Zealand and Fiji battle it out could be a highlight of the sevens tournament. Fans on both sides expect their teams to end up first in this pool, and while it’s hard to discount Samoa it’s looking to be a tough road ahead for them.

Image credit: Allan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Pool B – Argentina, France, Wales, Kenya

Following their impressive second place finish behind New Zealand at the Cape Town 7s, Argentina will be looking to go one better here. France are no pushover though, so they will need to play some good footy to take the top spot. If Kenya gets on a roll like they did at the Singapore 7s during the 2015-2016 series we could see a boilover.


Pool C – South Africa, England, Spain, Papua New Guinea

South Africa are our favourites to win this pool comfortably – they are the reigning rugby sevens champions and opened the series with a win at the Dubai 7s. The main challenger to them is probably England, but it’ll be a grueling task to overcome the South Africans. Papua New Guinea is the unknown on debut.


Pool D – Canada, USA, Australia, Scotland

There will be a bit of a three way tussle here, but of course we’re backing the mighty Australians to go through their pool undefeated in some close games. Neighbours Canada and USA are likely to be fighting it out to claim the second spot.



WOMEN'S
Pool A – Australia, France, Spain, Papua New Guinea

The Australian women started the series in Dubai on a high and we have them as a very good chance to go through their pool without dropping a game. Historically over the past 11 tournaments, France has finished better than Spain and we may see that trend continue here.

Image credit: Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images


Pool B – USA, New Zealand, England, Japan

This one is likely to be between two teams. New Zealand will be seeking to recapture the form that made them the reigning rugby sevens champions, and we have them just getting past a much improved USA team to claim top of the pool.


Pool C – Russia, Canada, Ireland, Fiji

This is the toughest pool in the women’s draw. Canada and Russia performed well in Dubai, whilst Fiji slipped to second last, and luck of the Irish has not quite worked out so far. Canada could come out slightly on top to win the pool, but we expect Fiji and Russia to be fighting it out with them.



Best daily pool matchups

Australia vs USA (Men’s) - Friday

The Australian men started the series with a fifth placing in Dubai, but slipped back to miss the quarter finals in Cape Town. The USA did almost the complete opposite. They had a poor start in the opening rugby sevens tournament in Dubai finishing last; however, they bounced back in Cape Town to finish in sixth place.

Their last meeting ended with a 31-14 triumph to the USA in the pool stage at the Cape Town 7s. They then went on to be undefeated in a pool that contained the Aussies, New Zealand and Spain. Australia are sitting ahead of the USA in the overall standings, but if we go off recent performances this matchup is likely to be very tight.

New Zealand vs USA (Women’s) - Saturday

New Zealand will be out for redemption. The reigning women’s champions had a frustrating start to the series with a fifth placing. They have only ever finished that low in a tournament back in 2014-2015 series at Amsterdam, and that’s when they had all but wrapped up the World Rugby Sevens Series title.

They will be up against a tough USA outfit that kicked off their season with a bang. The USA women made it all the way to the final at the Dubai 7s only to be pipped by the Australian team, and they will take a lot of confidence out of that performance going into the Sydney 7s. The two team’s last encounter was in Dubai, where USA got the better of New Zealand 14-12 in the quarter finals. This is shaping up to be a cracker of a game.

New Zealand vs Fiji (Men’s) - Saturday

We think this is hands down the best match up of the tournament. These two teams have not finished lower than top four at the end of the World Rugby Sevens Series since it began 1999-2000. In fact, in the last five years they have won two series each.

New Zealand are sitting top of the standings after the first two rugby sevens tournaments of the year and are looking slick, but Fiji are the reigning Olympic champions and known for their exciting ball-playing ability and natural strength. They have not come up against each other this series yet, so this will be game on! If you want to see a quality rugby sevens game, then this is the one to watch. This could very well end up being the men’s final.



*Note: Women’s Finals are on Saturday and Sunday, Men’s Finals are on Sunday.

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