Preview: Canada Sevens
ROUND SIX: The Sevens World Series delivered scintillating action in Las Vegas last weekend, with a victory for the United States on home soil.
The win puts The Eagles top of the table going into the Canada leg, Round Six of the Series, in Vancouver hosted at the BC Stadium on Saturday (March 9) and Sunday (March 10).
The United States lead the series on 98 points, closely followed by World Cup Sevens 2018 champions New Zealand on 93 and Olympic gold medallists Fiji in third with 84 points.
The competition kicks off with England, currently placed fourth in the series, taking on Scotland before the other Pool D match sees Argentina face Japan.
Pool C kicks off with Australia v Spain followed by New Zealand v France.
In Pool B, Fiji opens against Kenya and Las Vegas runners-up Samoa face hosts Canada.
Defending Series champions South Africa face invitational side Chile in the opening Pool A match, followed by series leaders United States v Wales.
“We had a great weekend in Vegas in front of the home fans,” United States captain Madison Hughes said.
“Day one didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but once we got through the knock out rounds the guys really stepped it up. It was such a special weekend, one that we will remember for a long time.
“We are feeling good going into Vancouver, we are going to have three hard matches but we are confident in ourselves and believe in ourselves so we will take it game by game and give it everything we’ve got.
“We love coming to Vancouver there’s a big energy in the stadium and we are looking forward to getting out there.”
Speaking at the captain’s launch, Canada captain Nathan Hirayama added: “We are hoping for a better weekend than last weekend, it was definitely disappointing for us in term of results but there are certainly a lot of positives we can take from it and we have been working hard this week.
“We are really looking forward to this weekend and getting out in front of a home crowd.
“It’s a difficult pool, they are all difficult, but this one is especially tough and we are not looking past any game – each one is going to take our best efforts to get a good result.
“We are all really excited to get out there, half our team is from the lower mainland, so this is always a really, really special one for us and we can’t wait for the weekend.”
That Sevens Show! Sean Maloney joins Rob Vickerman to preview the #Canada7s in this episode of That Sevens Show #TSS
Posted by World Rugby Sevens on Thursday, 7 March 2019
For the defending Series champions South Africa it is a completely different picture.
Eighteen victories in 29 matches do not make for pretty reading to any faithful BlitzBok supporter, especially after the rich buffets of wins served up by the team in the previous two Sevens World Series.
The fact that the BlitzBoks suffered back-to-back defeats in four of the five tournaments played in the series so far, rubs even more salt into the wounds for the South Africans, and the 10 defeats this season are challenging the team’s resolve like never before.
It hurts the team as well, said BlitzBok back Stedman Gans, and they are working very hard to fix the wrongs.
“We realise that things are not going as smoothly as it should and there is a real desire in the squad to solve that,” he said as the squad prepared for the Canada Sevens.
“There are two things we can always fall back on, I believe and that is our effort and our processes. We have faith in both. The guys will always go out and give their best effort out there for the jersey and for each other, of that there is no doubt. Our processes have been successful in the past and it will bring success in the future. We just need to implement it better.”
The BlitzBoks finished joint-seventh in Las Vegas last week, the worst since Gans joined the team 63 matches and 18 tries ago, but for the two-times World Series winner there is a real belief that the upward curve in performances has started.
Gans lamented the lack of execution: “Against the United States for example, we lost possession eight times. You cannot afford that and it was reflected in the results, but we are getting better all the time. We are not the same team as last year at the same time. We lack some experience and mistakes will be made, but we need time to grow and if we are afforded that, the results will be very good.
“All of us are keen to fulfil his role on the field. We are building something special here and we all want to be part of it. The effort is there, the implementation is getting there, but unfortunately, these things take time.”
(Kick-off is local time – GMT minus eight hours)
England v Scotland – 09.08
Argentina v Japan – 09.30
Australia v Spain – 09.52
New Zealand v France – 10.14
Fiji v Kenya – 10.39
Samoa v Canada – 11.01
South Africa v Chile – 11.23
United States v Wales – 11.45
England v Japan – 12.37
Argentina v Scotland – 12.59
Australia v France – 13.21
New Zealand v Spain – 13.43
Fiji v Canada – 14.08
Samoa v Kenya – 14.30
South Africa v Wales – 14.52
United States v Chile – 15.14
Scotland v Japan – 16.09
Argentina v England – 16.31
Spain v France – 16.53
New Zealand v Australia – 17.15
Kenya v Canada – 17.40
Samoa v Fiji – 18.02
Chile v Wales – 18.24
United States v South Africa – 18.46