VANCOUVER, CANADA – The 2016-17 World Rugby Men’s Sevens Series keeps trucking along as it now reaches its sixth leg in Canada. The #Canada7s in Vancouver is in its second year on the HSBC Sevens Series circuit and like last season the fans are queuing up for a fantastic event. With only four legs left after this stop, it will be next to impossible to catch the series-leading South African Blitzbokke. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of excellent competition ahead of us. With that, let’s look at the @Eagle7s and try and predict how the tournament will play out. Here’s my Vancouver 7s Men’s Predictions.
Three main issues stand out going into this tournament for the Eagles and their head coach Mike Friday:
Player Changes (+/-): The USA has the same 12 from Las Vegas but not everyone is 100 percent healthy, so they have added a 13th man. The 13th man can only be used should someone from the 12-man squad be injured and unavailable to play for the day. For Canada, the USA has chosen Lindenwood University student, the 20 year old backrower, Malon Al-Jiboori.
Momentum: The Eagles played well in Las Vegas and they need to get on a roll. Thy must take the energy with them from Vegas and unleash it in Vancouver. They won’t be at home with rabid fans but they should still be well supported and have a chance.
Sharing the Load: We know that there is no Carlin Isles. We know that Perry Baker is the new danger man on the team. We also know that Madison Hughes is the heart and soul of the squad. However, what the rest of the world didn’t know is how everyone could step up to the table. Danny Barrett scored 5 tries and made the the dream team. “Fro Man” Folau Nuia became a team leader. The other players all stepped up to help the team overcome Isles’ injury and opponents concentrating on Baker. More of that will be needed for the USA to achieve the same feats in Vancouver.
Optimist’s View: The team continues the momentum and finishes third.
Cynic’s View: They win fifth place. Losing a quarterfinal but then winning the next two games.
My View: They will likely finish sixth. Losing a close one in their final game of the second day. I hope I eat more crow on this one.
Going Forward: The USA has a likelihood of going 2-1, then 1-2 on the second day.
The Blitzbokke of South Africa are the 2017 version of Fiji 2016. Barring an epic collapse, it looks like they are set to win the series. There have been 5 stops and the Blitbzokke have won 4. They were runner’s-up in the only one they didn’t win. They have plenty of chasers in sides like New Zealand & Fiji, and the only side to defeat them in a final – England. However, all those squads have a lot of work to do to defeat the South Africans, so they have to strike now.
Here are my Pool Previews:
South Africa will top this group. England will try and make them work for it but based on their performance this season, it will be all Blitzbokke… Kenya are a consistent threat but I don’t see how they can move to one of the top two spots in the group. This leaves a very over-matched Chile finishing at the bottom.
This is a tough group to call. Fiji are the favorites, so that leaves second place up for grabs… Argentina has been in the in-form team of the remaining three sides, so there is a chance. However, Samoa is incredibly unpredictable so they could show up shock everyone… Meanwhile you have a Wales side that won 3rd in Wellington and has not reached a knock-out round in the 2 tournaments since or before… I have 2-4 being Argentina, Samoa and Wales.
The pool winners will be either USA and Australia; they are the top two teams in this pool. That leaves France to come into third and once again, unfortunately, the bottom team will most likely be Japan.
New Zealand will win this group, while barely breaking a sweat… unless Canada is super-motivated by their home fans. The Canadians will definitely claim second but will face a tough challenge from Scotland, who are starting to turn the corner… Coming in last will be the Russians.
Here are our Predications. The Final standings will be:
Second: New Zealand
Third: South Africa
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.