PARIS, FRANCE – Beinvenue au Paris! The City of Lights is hosting 9th leg of the 2016/2017 World Rugby HSBC 7s series. Last year the series returned here for the first time in ten years and a city like Paris will never disappointment if you are looking for a great party. As for the circuit, it has yet to disappoint, as each leg has possessed it own little bit of magic. With that, let’s see what magic awaits us in this historic place via my @Eagles7s Preview And Tournament Analysis.
The USA’s showing in previous stop Singapore was fantastic. Over the last 4 legs the USA can legitimately say the are one of the 4 best teams in the competition. However, there is always room for improvement. In these last legs, despite @Eagles7s consistently qualifying for the cup and making the cup semi-finals, the Eagles have not won them. They are currently in 5th place – only 9 points behind New Zealand for 4th place.
Let’s look at the 3 key issues going into this tournament:
Team Changes (+/-): There have been 3 changes to the side that finished runner-up in Singapore. Stalwart Danny “The Beast” Barrett is still recovering from a knock in Hong Kong so he is still unavailable will be “replaced” by Alex Schwarz, the dashing Aussie from Old Blue in New York. Replaced is in quotation marks because there is no replacing Monsieur Barrett… Anthony Welmers is replaced by Don Pati, who is back from injury, and Malon Al-Jiboori is replaced by Life West’s Naima Fualaau.
Team Effort: In our Singapore preview, we said @SpeedStick11, Perry Baker, needed help. Stephen Tomasin stepped up his scoring and with Danny Barrett – being the beast he is, – joined Baker on the Singapore Dream Team. This team effort must continue continue because as dangerous as Baker is with no other speedster on the squad, the team must work harder to keep opponents honest, so that Baker gets the space he needs to operate and remain dangerous.
Taking That Next Step: The USA avoided the Blitzbokke of South Africa in Singapore but took on Fiji and Australia in the Cup playoffs and beat them. This is great but they still came up short. That next step to winning a title is key to cap off a great season. Considering how they have been performing lately, winning now will garner much more credibility than their win of the London 7s in 2015.
Optimist’s View: The Eagles will finally win it all.
Cynic’s View: The Eagles will draw South Africa in the semis and finish 4th.
My View: I actually believe Team USA will lose the semi-final for this leg and win the 3rd place match.
Paris 7s (#Paris7s ):
As things go, unless South Africa fails to qualify for the cup round for the next two legs of the the series, chances of which are near impossible, they will end up as champions. However, if they hope to finish the circuit with a flurry, they may find it très difficile... England and Fiji are in third and second place respectively, separated by 2 points. And as the USA is making a hard push to crack for a top 4 spot at the expense of New Zealand, there is a lot to consider as the tournament kicks off in Paris.
South Africa 7s
South Africa should win this group with ease but they will face some pressure from the newly-minted Singapore leg champions, Canada. The Maple Leafs will be expected to take second… Scotland can be tough to predict but they are definitely the odds-on favorite to finish third over Japan.
New Zealand 7s
This will be the Group of Death. Each of these teams can beat the other on their day… New Zealand, based on pedigree, is my bet to win the group… The USA has shown that they are getting better at finding ways to win the tough games so, I will back them to come out of this group… Argentina is capable of upsetting the top 2 teams in this group but have a habit of making mistakes at inopportune times… Wales are the most inconsistent of the 4 sides, so I can’t confirm what to expect, and predict that the poorer version will appear.
England has the best chance of winning this group. However, France are at home so they have as good a chance as they have ever had to win or go far in 7s… Kenya remain unpredictable but in Singapore – if not for a crucial mistakes late in the game – the Kenyans would have gone further. They have a chance to threaten for second but will likely finish third… Spain will unfortunately finish last in this group as they are just so far behind their opponents in class. They come to play every match, though, so beware.
Fiji will likely win this group, though they will face a strong challenge from an Australia side that seems to coming into their own in the second half of the circuit… Samoa should win third, as they should be better than Russia, who are a pesky but less-talented side.
A live stream will be provided to viewers who want to watch the action on World Rugby’s website.
Finally, here are my predictions for the playoffs and the team that will win promotion to core status:
Cup: South Africa
Challenge Trophy: Argentina
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, @Matt_McCarthy00, @Junoir Blaber, @JWB_RWU, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @MichaelHalsey24, @MeetTheMatts, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.