Preview, Singapore Sevens
WORLD SERIES ROUND FIVE: The Singapore leg of the Sevens World Series is set to thrill fans with the highly anticipated return of Olympic champions Fiji, 2020 Series winners New Zealand and Samoa.
South Africa were winners last time out in Singapore in 2019 and they have been in unstoppable form so far in the 2022 series, with four consecutive tournament victories – to lead the series standings with a maximum 88 points.
The Springboks Sevens have won six rounds in a row, including both tournaments in the 2021 series.
They have accumulated an impressive 34 successive victories, which is tied for the second-most of all time and they are chasing New Zealand’s record of 48 wins in a row, achieved during a dominant spell in 2007-08.
However, the BlitzBoks will face stiff competition in Singapore with the return of Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa.
All three teams missed the last two rounds played in Spain due to the logistical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and both New Zealand and Samoa are appearing for the first time on the 2022 Series.
A few of the BlitzBoks arrived in Singapore on their maiden voyage and even for some of the more experienced players, April 2019 is still fresh in their memories – even though it was two years ago.
That was the last time the popular tournament at the National Stadium took place, and very few of the players have forgotten the memorable ending to that tournament – as the BlitzBoks came back from being 0-19 down in the Final against Fiji to clinch victory by one point, 20-19.
Skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi certainly recalls that match – as well as a number of other familiar surroundings in Singapore – with a huge smile.
“I was not part of that match, as I got injured in the semifinal against the United States and could not play against Fiji in the Final,” he recalls.
“It is a bittersweet memory as such, as one always wants to be on the field, especially in a final like that – those are the games you dream of and train for.
“That said, it was still wonderful to be part of the win, even though I was on the side of the field and not on it with the boys.”
“The Singapore Sevens is a really special tournament.
“It’s a city and a place in the world that offers a different climate and it’s different compared to the other stops.
“However, we’re going to have to start all over again and start from zero.
“We always approach each tournament one game at a time, and we never move away from that approach.
“That has always been the effort that we put in each and every performance and the implementation of our processes.
“It’s almost like a lullaby, a song that you hear all the time, but that’s how we approach each and every game and tournament.”
New Zealand captain Sam Dickson said: “It’s been almost three years since we were here in Singapore and it’s been a while since we’ve played international sevens.
“We’ve been working really hard the last few months and we’re going to bring a lot of hunger and energy, and hopefully our experience and our natural rugby ability will be able to do the job.”
South Africa is in Pool A with the United States, who were finalists in the first round of the 2022 Series in Dubai, alongside African rivals Kenya and also Canada.
“Pool B sees Samoa make their first appearance in the 2022 Series and they will face Australia, England and Spain with the top two teams from each pool qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Reigning World Cup Sevens champions New Zealand, who have five debutants in their squad, are drawn in Pool C where they will return to action with a mouthwatering encounter against in-form Argentina who have reached the medal podium in all four rounds of the 2022 Series so far. Scotland and Wales complete the Pool C line-up.
Double Olympic champions Fiji are in Pool D together with Ireland, France and Japan.
Saturday, April 9
(Kick-off is local time – GMT plus eight hours)
France v Japan – 10.00
Ireland v Fiji – 10.22
Scotland v Wales – 10.44
Argentina v New Zealand – 11.06
England v Spain – 11.28
Australia v Samoa – 11.50
United States v Kenya – 12.12
South Africa v Canada – 12.34
France v Fiji – 13.06
Ireland v Japan – 13.28
Scotland v New Zealand – 13.50
Argentina v Wales – 14.12
England v Samoa – 14.34
Australia v Spain – 14.56
United States v Canada – 15.18
South Africa v Kenya – 15.40
Japan v Fiji – 16.22
Ireland v France – 16.44
Wales v New Zealand – 17.06
Argentina v Scotland – 17.28
Spain v Samoa – 18.07
Australia v England – 18.35
Kenya v Canada – 19.05
South Africa v United States – 19.33