Preview: Sydney Sevens

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:55

WORLD SERIES ROUND THREE: Are South Africa one-season wonders? Did the bubble burst in Cape Town in December?

Those questions will be answered over the next three days in Sydney.

It took just one game by New Zealand - currently sitting at the top of the World Series table - to raises some doubts about the BlitzBoks going back-to-back.

It has been an incredible start by the Kiwis to their 2018 season.

New Zealand has had an incredible start to the 2018 series. A final in Dubai and their first tournament win since April 2016 at the Cape Town leg.

It hasn't all been plain sailing for the current series leaders. A particularly tough 2017 series saw them finish down the table. With plenty of new players coming in and some old players calling time on their career, the side went through a bit of a transitional period.

"Yeah it was a tough year," captain Scott Curry said.

"We didn't have our head coach, Scott Waldrom stepped in as interim and did a really great job. We had a lot of new players involved and a few guys finishing their career as well. It was a bit of a funny one and I suppose it was used as a bit of a rebuilding year."

That all seemed to change in Dubai.

The New Zealand side came out and played some really exciting and physical rugby. It looked like a completely different team and one that seemed to be really enjoying how they were playing.

New Zealand will no doubt be looking to turn up the heat in Sydney this weekend and making sure they put their best foot forward in what will be a huge year for sevens rugby.

However, in Sevens you don't have to wait too long to get another crack at redemption.

And the one team that will be determined to make amends is the BlitzBoks, the defending Sydney and World Series champions.

SA coach Neil Powell is eager for the third tournament of the 2017/18 World Series to start, as he wants to measure the progress his team has made.

"The three-day tournaments are a bit different from the normal ones on the circuit and this Sydney tournament does have a bit of a Hong Kong feel due to it due to the fact that it is played over three days," Powell said.

"We arrived a bit earlier than normal because of that. It is not the easiest thing to travel to Australia and New Zealand from South Africa as it does take a day or two to get back into the flow of things.

"We only play after six [18.00] and it is a long day for the guys to just wait around, so the session on Friday will break up the day a bit and get the guys focussed on the job at hand."

Powell looked at fine-tuning their preparations this week, as he believes the hard work was done at their training base in Stellenbosch already.

"We looked back at what went wrong in Cape Town and it seemed to be a mental thing," said Powell.

"We had some technical mishaps, but I think the long 2017 season got to the players.

"That said, the rest did wonders to all of them and I could feel the intensity and vibe in the air in the last week or so. We see this tournament as a bit of a trial run for the Commonwealth Games as well [to be played at Gold Coast in mid-April], so want to go out there and measure ourselves against the best in the world."
Schedule
(Kick-off is local time - GMT plus 11 hours)

Friday, January 26
England v Spain - 18.00
South Africa v Papua New Guinea - 18.22
France v Wales - 18.44
Argentina v Kenya - 19.06
Fiji v Samoa - 19.28
New Zealand v Russia - 19.50
United States v Australia - 20.12
Canada v Scotland - 20.34

Saturday, January 27
England v Papua New Guinea - 14.41
South Africa v Spain - 15.03
France v Kenya - 15.25
Argentina v Wales - 15.47
Fiji v Russia - 16.09
New Zealand v Samoa - 16.31
United States v Scotland - 16.53
Canada v Australia - 17.15
Spain v Papua New Guinea - 17.52
South Africa v England - 18.14
Wales v Kenya - 18.36
Argentina v France - 18.58
Samoa v Russia - 19.20
New Zealand v Fiji - 19.42
Australia v Scotland - 20.04
Canada v United States - 20.26

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SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 0
Team P W D L Pts
Spain Sevens 0 0 0 0 20
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
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 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
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
United States 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