HAWKEYE VIEW: Do you feel the buzz?

Fri, 11 Dec 2015 07:43
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EXCLUSIVE: RUGBY365 COLUMNIST MATT HAWKINS SPEAKS ABOUT THE BUZZ AND EXCITEMENT OF THE CAPE TOWN LEG OF THE SEVENS WORLD SERIES.

That was electric!!!

The start of the Sevens World Series has come and gone, but it left and impression that has had a ripple effect this whole week and has elevated the buzz and excitement of the upcoming Cape Town Sevens to new levels.

Without a doubt Dubai has always been a special place to host a Series event, but over the last few years it has not been the kick-off tournament.

This year it returned to its rightful spot, as the opener and it did not disappoint.

When World Cup 2015 was in full flight, the increased competitive level of all teams. And the intensity of every game was far more palpable than in any other World Cup in the past.

Based on the Series opener, one would have to agree that the same could be said for the games on display in Dubai.

The United States look hungrier than ever and were willing to fight for each and every opportunity which placed them in a league all of there own.

England with youth and confidence fought hard all tournament long and reaped the reward of making the Final. Fiji though were simply sublime.

The artistry and pure athleticism of each of there players was a sight to be hold. Watching them from them tear apart New Zealand the way they did was truly mesmerizing.

We saw the two top seeds of each pool progress except in Pool B, where Samoa beat out Scotland and claimed a spot in the quarterfinals.

Looking back on the tournament, you'd have to say that Fiji looked head and shoulders above the other teams and for them its all about the ability to keep their composure and to keep the hunger and desire to win each and every time they step foot on to the field.

Looking ahead to this weekend, there has been a massive groundswell of buzz and excitement around the Cape Town Sevens.

I honestly can't believe that Cape Town had not won the bid sooner. The city is perfectly placed to host an event like this.

The combination of sports and entertainment set against the backdrop of the Cape Town's beauty in full swing summer conditions would be hard to beat the world over.

I think the biggest take away from Dubai was how the event exploded on social media and how that wave continues on.

With the events and cities that are lined up for this year and the Olympics in place to cap the year off,  its going to be hard to go anywhere with out seeing some kind of Sevens action on your feed.

Now with the competition at hand, we have to look ahead to this week's tournament.

We keep saying it, but I will remind everyone again - the ability to keep your athletes healthy and peaking at the tournaments, as well as the depth of your player pool are the two major contributing factor to a teams ability to be sustainable and consistent in their performances throughout the year.

New Zealand suffered massive casualties last weekend and found themselves going in to their last game with just eight players suited to take the field.

At this level, that is just not doable in any way shape or form.

South Africa have also had to regroup and between those two teams we'll see around six new faces this tournament - who weren't competing in Dubai.

For New Zealand their storied captain DJ Forbes returns to the helm to lead his troops in to battle in what promises to be a never before seen atmosphere in South Africa, Cape Town.

One thing we didn't really see or notice was the impact of the high-profile 15-a-side players in the Sevens game.

Unfortunately Sevens is really becoming its own game, not just in body type, but in rugby IQ and skills necessary to succeed.

I think for all teams that are looking to include the 15-a-side players in their roster come Rio, based on what we saw last weekend, the sooner they can be included and are given the opportunity to be out there and get some miles on those wheels in a Sevens tournament, the better for both the player, but also the team that plans to use them.

This weekend I think will again see the two top seeds in each pool progress through.

But there will be a few upsets amongst the pool games.

I'd expect Kenya, Zimbabwe and France to do most of that damage and we'll see if one of them will be able to do enough to join Samoa in that top eight.

In all honesty I would suggest grabbing your hard hat and strapping yourself in.

This weekend is going to be absolutely massive from every aspect and I expect more excitement, more adrenalin, more heartbreak and even more online attention than what we experienced before.

By Matt Hawkins
@polarbearkzn
@rugby365com