Singapore Sevens preview
WORLD SERIES ROUND NINE: Fresh off a thrilling weekend in Hong Kong, the world’s 16 best teams have arrived in Singapore for the next stop on the global calendar.
Round Nine of the Sevens World Series also sees the race for Paris 2024 Olympic qualification starting to take shape – with only three events to go.
New Zealand, who have tasted victory three times this season – in Sydney, Los Angeles and Hong Kong – lead the Series standings with 142 points and can become the first nation other than hosts France to officially qualify for Paris 2024 if they hoist the trophy aloft on Sunday.
Hamilton and Vancouver winners Argentina (121) sit second behind New Zealand and are closely trailed by Hong Kong runners-up Fiji with 113 points, Paris 2024 hosts France with 112 points and South Africa with 101 points.
The men’s Series has seen five different winners (Australia, Samoa, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand) through the opening eight tournaments.
After a 10-year hiatus, in 2016 the Sevens World Series made its triumphant return to Singapore, a location that hosted stops in 2002 and 2004 through 2006.
Since then the tournament has seen four different nations crowned champions, including first-ever victories for Kenya in 2016 against Fiji and 2017 for Canada against their North American rivals, the United States.
Fiji is the only nation to have been victorious on numerous occasions, winning in 2018 against Australia and in 2022 with a defeat of their rivals, New Zealand.
South Africa was champions in 2019 by blanking Fiji 19-0.
The 2023 Series continues to be the most competitive in history with the prize of Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on offer for the top four teams in the standings.
Hosts France men have pre-qualified for next year’s pinnacle event in the nation’s capital.
The stakes couldn’t be higher at the bottom end of the men’s Series this season as well.
Following the penultimate event in Toulouse, the 15th ranked team will be relegated while the 12th through 14th ranked teams will face-off against the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 winner for the 12th and final position on the 2024 Series.
As it stands, Japan (11 points) hold the lowest ranking among core teams, while Canada (22), Kenya (30), Uruguay (39) and Spain (40) will be fervently trying to accumulate points over the next two tournaments.
Pool A sees Series leaders New Zealand alongside Dubai winners South Africa, Hong Kong (round one) winners Australia and the invitational side Hong Kong China.
Hong Kong runners-up Fiji have been drawn with Spain, Samoa and Canada in Pool B, while France will meet the United States, Uruguay and Kenya in Pool C.
Great Britain, who narrowly lost in the Hong Kong third-place play-off, will meet Argentina, Ireland and Japan in Pool D.
The Singapore Sevens is set to be a special weekend for New Zealand co-captain Sione Molia, who will be running out for his 50th tournament.
Following a phenomenal tournament in Hong Kong, the side has recovered, reset, and refocused their energy in preparation for another challenging weekend ahead.
Coach Clark Laidlaw said the group took their time to reflect on their achievement in Hong Kong, before resetting and preparing for this weekend.
“The early part of the week we really focused on our recovery and enjoying what we had achieved, letting it sink in a wee bit,” Laidlaw said.
“Winning Hong Kong felt like winning a pinnacle event and with such a young team as well as playing the No.2, No.3, No.4 and No.5 seeds in the world it took a bit out of the group so was nice to let it sink in.
“The team have bounced back really well, and we have had some quality training.
“The obvious challenge heading into the weekend is we have very tough and motivated teams in our pool so we are focusing solely on small parts of our game that we think we can improve ahead of the weekend.”
Laidlaw applauded Molia on his impending achievement.
“Sione has been an outstanding sevens player for a few seasons now and had an outstanding 49th tournament last week.
“He is a real leader, one who leads by his actions and someone our young players really connect with. The team are very proud of him and excited to get back out there for his 50th.”
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(Kick-off is Singapore time – GMT + eight hours)
Argentina v Ireland (09.30)
Great Britain v Japan (09.52)
South Africa v Australia (10.14)
New Zealand v Hong Kong (10.36)
United States v Uruguay (10.58)
France v Kenya (11.20)
Spain v Samoa (11.42)
Fiji v Canada (12.04)
Argentina v Japan (12.56)
Great Britain v Ireland (13.18)
South Africa v Hong Kong (13.40)
New Zealand v Australia (14.02)
United States v Kenya (14.24)
France v Uruguay (14.46)
Spain v Canada (15.08)
Fiji v Samoa (15.30)
Ireland v Japan (16.22)
Great Britain v Argentina (16.44)
Australia v Hong Kong (17.06)
New Zealand v South Africa (17.28)
Uruguay v Kenya (18.07)
France v United States (18.35)
Samoa v Canada (19.05)
Fiji v Spain (19.33)