RANDALL’S ISLAND, NYC – This is one of the biggest weekends in rugby worldwide. All versions are in full swing; Rugby League, Rabodirect 12, AP, Top 14 and HSBC Sevens. Here in New York City, we’re readying for tomorrow’s HUGE NYRC 7s – over 130 teams from around the globe.
The NYRC 7s is the premier club 7s tourney in the USA. Vegas isn’t far behind, but it piggybacks the very cool IRB Vegas 7s, which is part of the HSBC Series that kicks off in Australia today/tomorrow – depending where you are. If you’re in NYC right now, you MUST come, it’s a special event the weather is unseasonably mild with blue skies.
Johnathan Wicklow Barberie will be there with Friday’s usual correspondent, Phaidra Knight, so it’ll be even more interesting.
But let’s get back to the HSBC 7s, because that’s the focus of many of you out there right now. Here’s my break down, alongside another shameless plug for my club. (Teams are listed as they finished last year):
NEW ZEALAND: Led by “Go DeeJay, Yo that’s my” DJ Forbes, I see no reason for them to not do it again. Especially since I think the teams that finished 2nd and 3rd are going to have down years. Finish – 1
SOUTH AFRICA: I expect the Blitzbokke to play with anger in every stop on this tour. I mean, look at these jerseys and shorts. However, Cecil Afrika’s fitness is a worry and if he can’t be 100 percent for the whole Series, they will struggle. Finish – 3
ENGLAND: I expect England to struggle more than how Tuesday’s RWU contributor Mathew Drew Turner’s teammates Dan Norton and James Rodwell struggle to get their wallets out come check time. You can’t cut a 7s legend like Ben Gollings and be as competitive. Ask Fiji about replacing Waisale Tikoisolomoni Serevi. Finish – 5
FIJI: They have gotten over Sereve a couple years ago and are building into being as dangerous as they use to be. Finish – 2
SAMOA: Building nicely and starting to be a real international force, so I expect them to progress. Finish – 4
AUSTRALIA: For awhile they were a joke at 7s. However, after some humiliating defeats, the most competitive sporting nation in the world upped their game. Still a ways to go, though. – Finish 6
WALES: They are somehow 7s World Cup Champions by winning the Hong Kong 7s. I expect much of the same from them. Blowing hot and cold and unable to be consistent. – Finish 8
ARGENTINA: With the 4 Nations or The Rugby Championship, as it is called, and not having players that play in Europe, they are under pressure. I expect this dearth of talent to hurt the Argies‘ competitiveness. Finish 10
KENYA: I expect the Kenyans to be a lot better as we clearly see how they are improving every year. I think this is the year they make some real headway. They certainly have the best fans. Finish – 7
FRANCE: The French are competitive in 7s due to their pedigree but I just don’t think they respect 7s enough for them to take the next step. Finish – 12
SCOTLAND: The Scots are the creators of 7s rugby, yet the languish at the bottom. I still think the SRU are having trouble with the deficit budget and juggling player resources. I don’t think they can progress without getting their act together. Finish – 11
UNITED STATES: Sounds crazy but Al Caravelli is getting his way with USA Rugby and there is the Olympics’ money about to come in, so good things are happening. The talent pool is better and deeper. I maybe a homer but I see big things for the Eagles and RWU Thursday contributor, Matt “Polar Bear” Hawkins. Finish – 9
PORTUGAL: They have potential but they still need to get better structure… Structure as in coaching and facilities. For them to have good tourneys despite all of that is impressive. Finish – 13
RUSSIA: I expect them to have a poor series. They have all the non-field stuff, in terms funding and developing facilities. They lack coaching and thoroughbreds. They may get there, just not this year. Finish – 15
CANADA: Following their impressive showing at the Pan-Am Games, they could make some noise if their players are able to avoid work commitments at critical times. If not, they finish last, eh. Finish – 14