PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA – Welcome to Port Elizabeth… We expect the weather to be bright and sunny… unlike that rainy mess called Dubai. The Nelson Mandela Bay 7s is the third leg of the HSBC Sevens Series. It was right at around this time last year where the All Black 7s side won (their 3rd straight year winning the SA7s leg) and began hitting their stride for the Series. Let us look at the Pools and who will finish 1st through 4th and our best guess as to the hardware winners
1. South Africa (RSA): Home team bump
2. Samoa (SAM): Momentum of winning in Dubai
3. Australia (AUS): Improving but not there yet
4. France (FRA): Not in the same class as the other two teams
1.New Zealand (NZL): They are starting to gel and they are the gold standard
2.Fiji (FIJ): Always dangerous and developing consistency
3.England (ENG): Still struggling to play without Turner and Cracknell
4.Scotland (SCO): Improving but really in a tough pool
1.Argentina (ARG): Best history of going far in tourneys out of the teams in this pool
2.Kenya (KEN): This could be their big run of the Series
3.Spain (ESP): They will push very hard for second and just may do it
4.Wales (WAL): They could also finish second as this is a very even group
1.Canada (CAN): Best track record of the team in the pool
2.United States (USA): Not head and shoulder above the competition but this will be their best chance
3.Portugal (POR): Doubt they have another big run in them so soon
4.Zimbabwe (ZIM): Will fight well and may surprise some on Day 2 but not on Day 1
Cup Champions: South Africa
Plate Champions: Samoa
Bowl Champions: Kenya
Shield Champions: Zimbabwe
The tourney kicks off here at 11:00 AM Saturday, which will be 6:00am in New York. Take E.S.T. and add 5 hours as a reference.
Like Ben Ryan of England, USA Coach Alex Magleby is under fire. In this round, the Americans must contend with the old enemy, Canada, who has given the Eagles fits, but other than that they have a very favorable draw. They have two teams in Zimbabwe and Portugal they can be viewed as slightly better and even with, respectively. This will be the USA’s best chance to advance and begin to start winning over Coach Mags’ naysayers.
That is it for me for now. Please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats and @Mathew Drew Turner, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.