PREVIEW: France Sevens
WORLD SERIES ROUND SEVEN: It is still all to play for with six of the nine rounds in the men’s series completed.
The unique scoring system for 2022 means only the best seven results from the nine rounds will count towards each team’s final Series standings.
The 2021 Series champions South Africa continued their unstoppable form with four consecutive tournament victories at the start of the 2022 Series to lead the standings with 111 points.
However the return of Olympic Champions Fiji and 2020 Series title winners New Zealand along with Samoa following enforced absences due to the logistical challenges of Covid-19 means that fans can expect a hotly contested event in Toulouse.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) May 18, 2022
Argentina will arrive in a confident mood on 105 Series points following their victory in Vancouver and Los Pumas Sevens are in Pool A together with England, Canada and Japan.
Argentina’s captain Gaston Revol said: “We have arrived on Monday and are preparing well for the tournament. We are always looking to continue to improve our game and performances. We had a very good result in Vancouver and we would like to repeat it here in France.”
Pool B sees double Olympic champions Fiji take on hosts France along with Wales and Kenya.
In a tough looking Pool C, third ranked Australia, who have 100 Series points, are paired with New Zealand, Scotland and the USA.
Current Series leaders South Africa will be looking to bounce back to their dominant early season form in Pool D where they will play the impressive Samoa, Ireland and Spain.
Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said their pool for the weekend is similar to the one they played in Canada, where they lost to Samoa in the Cup quarterfinals.
“We will play similar types of teams again,” said Soyizwapi.
“We had Samoa and Spain in Vancouver and play Ireland this time as well. They are all good teams in our pool, so we are looking towards a very competitive weekend. Spain showed us how well they can keep the ball alive in our previous encounter and we will not take them lightly.
“Ireland have been doing very well in recent times and have been together as a team for a while now, so they are formidable opponents.
“Samoa’s physicality proved a challenge for us last time around, so we need to be better when we face them this weekend. We have prepared well though and are looking forward to the weekend.
“We trained well since we arrived here and I loved the attitude the players showed during those sessions, especially our defence session. That is normally our toughest session of the week, and the guys really came through that well, so we are ready to play. This is another opportunity for us, and we want to grab it with both hands.”
The Toulouse tournament could also provide a significant milestone to Branco du Preez, already South Africa’s most capped player who has won more World Series tournaments than any other South African.
Du Preez, who is playing in his 80th tournament, ran onto the field 400 times already and scored no less than 1409 points in the Green and Gold. Amongst those are 99 tries and the sweeper/scrumhalf is well aware of that elusive 100th try.
“Yes, I don’t need to be reminded of that, that is something I really want to achieve,” said Du Preez with a broad smile.
“Stats are irrelevant when you contribute towards the team, your try will come sometime, so I am not going out looking for it. We all have a job to do on the field and if everyone does that properly and I am in the right position, the try will come.
“Make no mistake, stats matter for a player and I would like to score 100 career tries, but my job at hand comes first when I play for the Springbok Sevens.”
Du Preez missed the tournaments in Singapore and Vancouver due to a shoulder injury, but is back and ready to contribute to the BlitzBok surge towards a second consecutive World Series title: “I am excited about what we can bring to the tournament this weekend, if our training sessions were anything to go by. The guys really worked hard at home to be ready for this one and the sessions here showed that commitment and form. That excites me and I can’t wait to go this weekend.”
See schedule below
*Toulouse is the grand finale of the women’s Series and while Australia have already claimed the 2022 title, the return of Olympic gold medallists New Zealand and bronze medallists Fiji sees the women’s competition back to full strength.
The USA, France and Ireland are in contention for the other Series podium positions while Spain and Brazil will be battling hard to avoid relegation to the Challenger Series.
Friday, May 20:
(Kick-off is local time – GMT plus two hours)
South Africa v Ireland – 12.00
Samoa v Spain – 12.22
New Zealand v Scotland 12.44
Australia v USA – 13.06
England v Canada – 13.28
Argentina v Japan – 13.50
France v Wales – 14.12
Fiji v Kenya – 14.34
South Africa v Spain – 18.28
Samoa v Ireland – 18.50
New Zealand v USA – 19.24
Australia v Scotland – 19.46
England v Japan – 20.08
Argentina v Canada – 20.30
France v Kenya – 22.05
Fiji v Wales – 22.33
Saturday, May 21:
Ireland v Spain – 12.00
Samoa v South Africa – 12.22
Scotland v USA – 12.44
Australia v New Zealand – 13.06
Canada v Japan – 13.28
Argentina v England – 13.50
Wales v Kenya – 14.12
Fiji v France – 14.34
Ninth-place quarterfinals – starts at 16.14
Cup quarterfinals – starts at 18.04
Sources: @WorldRugby & SA Rugby