Preview: Dubai Sevens

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:58

NEW BEGINNINGS: Olympic champions Fiji will have a massive target on their backs when the 2016/17 Sevens World Series get underway in Dubai on Friday.

It is Round One of the 10-tournament series - which will; also see teams stop off in Cape Town, Wellington, Sydney, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris and London.

As both defending World Series champions and Olympic Champions Fiji will start as favourites.

However, they can expect some strong opposition from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

The excitement is certainly building in Dubai.

Off the back of a hugely successful Olympic Games in Rio, which saw the game gain more than 16 million new fans, the teams are preparing for a new Olympic cycle that will set them on course for Tokyo 2020.

Fiji's Olympic gold medal-winning captain Osea Kolinisau said their achievement - of winning the Rio Olympics earlier this year - has made a massive difference.

"It has been life-changing," Kolinisau said.

"You get asked for a lot more photos and you get invited to all sorts of places to try and inspire children.

"But life is all about changes, and now we start with the new series and we have to readjust, starting here in Dubai."

South Africa are in Pool B, which means they won't face New Zealand until the play-offs round should they both qualify.

South Africa are drawn with the United States, Scotland and Uganda, while the All Blacks face England, Samoa and Russia.

While New Zealander DJ Forbes stands on the cusp of achieving the all-time tournament appearance record by playing in his 80th tournament there, is plenty of interest across the tournament as a whole as teams kick on from the Olympic experience midway through the year.

South Africa are one team who have plenty to play for - having won just one tournament in last season's series, at home, in Cape Town.

They made the finals in Wellington, Vancouver and London but were beaten on each occasion.

Apart from the big guns - Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia - one team that could prove to be dark horses are Scotland.

The Scots displayed a different style of Sevens from the one they are usually known for and like Fiji they played the ball wide from sideline to sideline and use their fleet footed players to break through the gaps and using the swerve and sidesteps to great effect.

That they did in the final tournament of the 2015/16 World Series and their coach said they wished they had found the winning formula earlier in the season.

Only a couple of players in the Scottish team represented Great Britain in the Rio Olympics and Scottish officials and fans cried foul of the dominance of English players in the GB side in Rio.

While many teams will be trying to beat Fiji to prove a thing or two, Scotland will be on a mission to prove many things and top of the list is GB would have fared better and not be thrashed if more Scottish players were in the team.

England Sevens captain Tom Mitchell believes there will be a different vibe to this year's Sevens World Series which commences in Dubai on Friday.

England will be looking to improve on last year's eighth-place finish, and Mitchell insists those of his team who were involved in GB's success at the Rio Olympics, can draw from the experiences it gave.

"For all the England players involved in that GB journey, it was a really good experience in terms of training in a high level environment with new players coming in," said Mitchell.

"We learnt a lot about ourselves as rugby players.

"We are super excited to get going; it has felt like quite a long break since everything that happened in the summer, so we are really itching to take the field as an England squad."

Schedule
(Kick-off is local time - GMT plus four hours)

Friday, December 2
Kenya v France - 09.00
Australia v Japan - 09.22
United States v Scotland - 09.44
South Africa v Uganda - 10.06
Argentina v Wales - 10.30
Fiji v Canada - 10.52
England v Samoa - 11.14
New Zealand v Russia - 11.36
Kenya v Japan - 12.00
Australia v France - 12.22
United States v Uganda - 12.44
South Africa v Scotland - 13.06
Argentina v Canada - 14.14
Fiji v Wales - 14.36
England v Russia - 14.58
New Zealand v Samoa - 15.20
France v Japan - 18.00
Australia v Kenya - 18.22
Scotland v Uganda - 18.44
South Africa v United States - 19.06
Wales v Canada - 19.31
Fiji v Argentina - 19.53
Samoa v Russia - 20.15
New Zealand v England - 20.37

Source: @WorldRugby7s

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 March 2017
Crusaders v Force 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Waratahs 08h45 Melbourne
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 19h05 Parc y Scarlets
Dragons v Ulster 19h35 Rodney Parade
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Cheetahs v Blues 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Gloucester 15h00 Ashton Gate
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 00
Team P W D L Pts
Chile 0 0 0 1 10
Papua New Guinea 0 1 0 0 1
Pool 19
Team P W D L Pts
England Sevens 0 0 0 0 19
Pool 20
Team P W D L Pts
Uganda Sevens 0 0 0 0 2
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Fiji Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Australia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
France Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
United States Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Japan Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Russia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool
Team P W D L Pts
Wales Sevens