We at RWU wish to join the rugby world and the world at large in expressing our sadness over the death of Nelson Mandela. RIP Madiba.
Port Elizabeth, SA: We are in Port Elizabeth because it will host the The Nelson Mandela Bay (SA) 7s tournament, the third stop of the IRB HSBC Sevens. As we did last week and will continue to do throughout this season’s 7s circuit we will tackle a few talking points from a USA Rugby perspective and preview the entire tournament. The recent Dubai 7s tournament for the USA was extremely disappointing. From the world perspective the play was generated positive vibes but serious questions also.
Coach Hawkins: Damned if you, Damned if you don’t. Many were happy to see Matt “Polar Bear” Hawkins stay on the sidelines in Dubai, however it was whispered quietly in dark corners about why now? With such a young team out there, why now remove the experience that Hawkins would provide. As for player selections, who starts, subs and when to make substitutions left much to be desired.
Slow Start and Winless (0-5): Another slow start to another tournament. The US were well beaten in their first two games by Canada and New Zealand though they woke up for England, they still fell short. In day 2, they started slow again and were dismantled by Australia before picking things up against France but a combination of a poor half and questionable substitutions meant the side ended winless.
Going Winless: You would think it was the first time the USA team went winless. However the real outrage was not so much the lack of wins as much as the lack of points scored and the point differential. 105 points allowed vs 17 points scored, a differential of negative 88.
Team changes (+/-): We mentioned how young the team was in our preview last week. Hawkins blooded two more players in Dubai. After more research it was discovered that the USA was the only team that went younger and or more inexperienced. The youth and inexperience was greatly exposed.
Optimist view: 3 coaches in 3 years. This new coach is thinking long term and has an eye on Rio 2016. The players that made their debut and the other young players will get their experience. Don’t be surprised with a strong 2nd half run.
Cynic view: Totally unacceptable! We keep messing around and we will lose core status. Performances like this don’t do the program any good and bring morale down.
RWU view: This will be a process. There is a twin pressure to win now but be ready to qualify for Rio. It is only the second stop on the tour. Last year the team had the 2nd best 2nd half of the season of any team in the series. So let us stay calm until the second half starts.
Going Forward: We see the USA team struggling and going winless in its first day. They will then go 1-2 on day 2 with the two losses being close. Mostly likely the make the shield final and lose.
The mood in the Republic will be mixed since 7s tournaments are fun festivals. However this one, bares the name of the recently deceased Nelson Mandela. The South African Rugby Union will do a moments silence and take other opportunities to recognize the great Mandela. Our preview will also persevere in that same vein.
On the back of their scintillating form in Dubai, Fiji are the favorites to win this group. By the same measure of form, the rest of group should finish, Australia, Scotland and France. Don’t be surprised if France finish ahead of Scotland.
Paul Treu returns to South Africa with his Kenya squad and this sub-plot will go a long way to explaining why they will finish first. The members of SA team will likely play with immense emotion, due to the passing of the global icon. It is impossible to guess their reaction but we say they finish second, with an ever-improving Canada,3rd and Spain last.
As they always do, the AIG New Zealand All Black 7s side will win their pool. RWU friend Pedro Leal‘s Portugal will raise eyebrows and have some fun as they take second. Wales will finish on top of The USA.
This is a tough group to gauge. All indications are the England should win this group. However both Argentina and Samoa are known to have one big run each series. With that said, it will be England, then Samoa who traditional make that run when on east of the Atlantic. Argentina will be 3rd while Zimbabwe will be cannon fodder.
Final standings will be
Cup: South Africa
Second: New Zealand
That’s it for now… feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.