WELLINGTON, N.Z – The 2014/2015 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series is proving to be one of the most unpredictable seasons in the history of the series. The 4th leg in Wellington was filled with unpredictable pool play, including the USA topping their pool. The knockout stage did lead to a New Zealand win – as we expected – but that was the only thing that we can claim any foresight in.
USA Finishes 7th:
The @Eagles7s a mixed tournament in terms of the incredible high of winning their pool and the low of getting knocked out in the Plate semi-final. There are no easy games in the 7s series, however the Eagles received a gift from the schedule makers with their first game against Japan. After allowing an early try to Japan, the USA went on to romp, 40-5. The USA look really sharp and were able to do what they wanted to do, the majority of the game. The played with a ruthless precision that many had been waiting to see.
Following that win, the USA came out guns blazing against France and won comfortably, 38-7. That win put the USA in a great position. They were topping the pool and were practically assured of progressing to the cup round. The USA just needed to win their next match or lose by the near impossible margin of 67 points against South Africa to qualify. The team played well but there were up against a South Africa that desperately needed to win to qualify for the Cup playoffs. The USA lost, 26-14.
Day 2 for the Eagles was filled with pain and heartbreak. They took on Scotland in the Cup quarterfinal game and were up 15-0 with about 4 minutes to go. It was at that point the wheels unexpectedly came off. Scotland got a score, then they got a huge call in their favor as Zach Test was shown a yellow card for not releasing the ball after a tackle. The Scots quickly scored and then after the USA struggled to gain momentum off the restart and led to a turnover and the Scots cashed in to win 19-5.
After that gut-wrenching loss was the Eagles had to try and win the the plate by beating Fiji in the Plate semi-final. Despite a valiant effort the Eagles were unable to take down the Flying Fijians and a very tight affair as they came up just short losing 12-10. This put the USA out of the tournament.
Now to the winners…
The All Black 7s Magic:
The New Zealand All Black 7s side had 5 débutantes in it for this tournament. They also had to deal with the late withdrawal of Tim Mikkelson. This meant that the veterans Gilles Kaka, Sherwin Stowers and captain DJ Forbes had to lead by example. The veterans and the rookies manged to come together well and power through at just the right time. They got through pool play and qualified for the Cup playoffs. They had a tough road in playoffs as they had to get by Australia, standings leaders South Africa and then England to win the title. They stayed together as a team and trusted the system which lead to their victory.
South Africa is first in the overall standings and they were able to so despite a slow start to the tournament. They manage to bounce back and claim third. The rise of New Zealand has added pressure to the situation as they are now clearly hot on the Blitzbokke’s trail. However, this is one team that might just be able to hold of the All Blacks. With the Series the way it is, we can expect the two sides to repeatedly face each other during almost every leg of the circuit.
Fiji refuse to be discounted under the leadership of Englishman Ben Ryan. They stayed within striking distance by collecting the Plate., despite Coach Ryan getting miffed with the officiating, which saw two of his better players, Captain Osea Kolinisau and robust winger Semi Kunatani tossed for illegal tackles. We think he has an argument… France, had a mixed Day 1 after defeating SA in their first game they couldn’t put it together. On Day 2 they managed to win the plate after putting it together for 3 straight games… Canada once again had a poor start to the tournament and after a rough start to day 2 they managed to at least salvage their campaign and win the shield.
Final standings were
Cup: New Zealand
Third: South Africa
The next leg will be in Las Vegas, USA on Valentine’s Day weekend. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.