Preview: Los Angeles Sevens
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Africa will try to complete a World Rugby Sevens Series title run this weekend at the season-ending Los Angeles Sevens but three rivals have other ideas.
The Blitzboks, coming off a gold medal in last month’s Commonwealth Games, lead the nine-month fight for the crown with 124 points, two clear of Australia and six ahead of Argentina with Olympic champion Fiji not out of hope on 104.
Under a special points system used due to Covid-19, each team’s season total includes its best seven results from the year. That would allow Fiji to move ahead of South Africa by winning the event if the Blizboks finish no higher than seventh.
South Africa, which topped last year’s Covid-limited table, will try to complete the first championship run since 2018 against a full field ahead of hosting the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town on September 9-11.
South Africa, which won the year’s first four tournaments, can clinch the title by reaching the LA final.
But coach Neil Powell’s side were drawn into a tough group with New Zealand, Canada and the US hosts and will be missing Selvyn Davids, Ronald Brown, Christie Grobbelaar and Mfundo Ndhlovo due to injuries in their Commonwealth title run.
“We are not going to try and work out permutations,” Powell told the World Rugby website. “We would rather seal the deal by coming out on top.
“The confidence and mood in the camp is good after the good results in Birmingham, but that is something in the past. We have a very tough pool and as usual, we will be looking to set a strong standard in our first game and work from there.”
Australia and Argentina, both in Pool A with Japan and Spain, seek a first-ever Series crown.
“This is a rare occasion for the squad,” Aussie coach John Manenti said. “You never know how many chances you will get in your career to achieve something like this, so everyone is determined to really go out there and take the opportunity.”
Argentina, which would need to win the title and get help to capture a breakthrough title, won a tournament for the first time since 2009 at Vancouver and enter off a Southern California training camp.
“We’re very motivated,” Argentina’s Matias Osadczuk said. “There’s no better motivation than dreaming of being champion.”
(Kick-off is SA time)
Saturday, August 27
South Africa v USA (18.20)
New Zealand v Canada (18.42)
England v Scotland (19.04)
Samoa v Kenya (19.26)
Ireland v France (19.48)
Fiji v Wales (20.10)
Spain v Argentina (20.32)
Australia v Japan (21.04)
South Africa v Canada (21.26)
New Zealand v USA (21.48)
England v Kenya (22.10)
Samoa v Scotland (22.32)
Ireland v Wales (23.09)
Fiji v France (23.31)
Spain v Japan (23.53)
Sunday, August 28
Australia v Argentina (00.15)
USA v Canada (00.37)
New Zealand v South Africa (00.59)
Scotland v Kenya (01.21)
Samoa v England (01.43)
France v Wales (02.37)
Fiji v Ireland (03.05)
Argentina v Japan (03.35)
Australia v Spain (04.03)
Source: AFP & World Rugby Sevens