Hawkeye view: New era for Sevens
It's been a fantastic first five stops on the Sevens World Series and its only going to get better.
As we look ahead, we need to first turn our eye towards some other news that takes a focus away from the on field action to what's happening off the pitch.
It was revealed a few weeks ago that – going in to the 2015/16 season of the Sevens World Series – Vancouver would be given a Series stop.
Following that, this week past week we got another announcement that saw a change on the horizon for the Sevens World Series, with the news that Australia had retained its stop, but it was moving from the Gold Coast to Sydney.
Why is that so important?
As we have discussed previously every team has to deal with many facets of team preparation, that preparation not only has a real focus on the technical and tactical on field focuses and lessons learned, but also just as crucial are the logistical off field preparations around travel, recovery and the management of tour details.
This years 2014/15 Sevens World Series followed this schedule. We started off with a one off stop on the Gold Coast in October. The teams then moved on to the first of four double headers with the first taking place in Dubai and then Port Elizabeth. The next two were then in Wellington and Las Vegas. The third stop has us in Hong Kong and Tokyo and then the teams wrap up the tour this coming May in Scotland and London.
With Vancouver receiving the rights to host a Series stop and with Australia holding on to its Series stop, but changing host city, that now poses a few questions.
Will their now be 10 stops on the Sevens World Series?
Which leg will the Vancouver tournament partner with?
Are these the only changes to the tournament schedule or will see new Series stops in new host countries and those that retain there Series stop, will those be in the same host city?
Why is this so significant? It is incredibly significant for a few reasons.
The first is the travel element. If we look just purely at the logistics of the partnering of tournaments, you would have to assume that the Sevens World Series would now be 10 tournaments long.
Lets say Las Vegas and Vancouver partner and then that would have Wellington and Sydney partner.
The travel arrangements still include two stops, but the number of planes used and the amount of hours spent travelling and on planes significantly decreases and the turn around time with less travel allows for greater efficiency, but better recovery and more time on deck for teams to prepare before the second weeks tournament.
If we completely cleared the slate and put together a picture perfect schedule for the Sevens World Series, what would that look like?
Here are my thoughts!
We would definitely have 10 stops. Those 10 stops would be paired up and this is how they would pair.
* Australia and New Zealand
* Dubai and South Africa
* France and England
* Hong Kong and Singapore
* Las Vegas and Vancouver
This now opens up two additional questions that would need to be answered.
1. Which cities should host?
2. What time of the year?
The calendar for the Sevens World Series currently runs from late October through to mid May. That's a significant block that falls either side of the November test window and completely stays away from the July Test window.
As we look forward toward the upcoming Series event in Hong Kong, one can only wonder and speculate, which one of these countries and cities are going to throw their last event on the Sevens World Series?
I think some really likely changes and opportunities when changing country, could see Japan falling out and being replaced by Singapore who hosts an invitational annually that is wildly successful and has a great following among the sevens world.
Another country that might find itself on the outside looking in come the 2015/16 Series could be Scotland and a real contender to replace them could be France.
Other tantalizing changes could be the change in South Africa. For years George had the event and then Port Elizabeth challenged and won the rights to host the SA leg, but I think it would come as no surprise if the mother city, Cape Town got the nod to take it on in the 2015/16 Series.
The next few weeks I am sure will provide much speculation and I have no doubt with the grandfather of all Sevens tournaments taking place next week in Hong Kong, all the Sevens pundits will be scratching their heads in thought provoking conversation rattling off the pros and cons of the new future in the game and the changes that are currently at play.
By Matt Hawkins