WELLINGTON, NZ – It was, as stated above, truly a wild day of Wellington 7s. Kenya, Australia and Samoa were the only teams to come out of the day with a 3-0 records.
The host All Blacks struggled uncharacteristically at home, losing to England, just surviving a blossoming Team USA squad sandwiched around a spanking of Spain. New Zealand skipper and IRB Hall Of Fame coach Gordon Tietjens was not exactly enamored with the day’s results, not his team’s effort:
“It’s about the team looking at themselves, we have played some terrible Sevens today, in some ways some of the experienced players aren’t performing as they want to. I suppose the gap between Port Elizabeth and here is quite extreme. You look at Australia, they went to Fiji (for the Sevens tournament there last weekend) and they were firing today, and perhaps that is what we need.”
You can be sure that you’ll see a different NZ squad tomorrow – but that doesn’t guarantee a title; not with the the globe closing the gap on 7s talent… Look no further than the team that all fans love but no teams want to play: the smiling speedsters of Kenya. You can’t not root for this team. Their fans pack the stands. The players are gracious, polite and friendly… And they can run over and around you. They play South Africa, who needed a point differential to advance, in an All-Africa quarter-final match tomorrow. Beware Krazy Kenya.
Back here in the USA folks have plenty to be positive about. After dropping a tight match to a good Spanish side, Coach Magleby’s boys bounced back with arguably their best result in years, tying Mother England 12-12 on a great try from Maka Unufe. Their day ended with a thriller vs the aforementioned All Blacks. Despite ultimately losing 17-10, Nick Edwards helped the Americans scare the daylights out of the heavily favored home team. This was another solid accomplishment – albeit without a win – and shows that Team USA is on the right path.
Getting back to Mathew Drew Turner… He’s been out since breaking his ankle in Australia in October. And without Chris Cracknell – who is getting closer to a return – and Christian Lewis-Pratt, England has been struggling. So much so, that their excellent coach, Ben Ryan, has come under fire. But they got MDT and CLP back this week and what a difference they make. Just imagine New Zealand without Tomasi Cama, DJ Forbes and Tim Mikkelson for a chunk of time. That’s what it was like for Ryan’s Redheads (they are full of gingers). So what did turner do? In three games he scored 4 tries and 20 points… and that’s with enough rust to start a fire with. (Google it). Now England face an upstart Scotland squad who started the Day of Upsets by edging Fiji, 14-12.
Finally, we must give Junoir Blaber credit for pointing out that Team Canada’s Nathan Hirayama could finally live up his potential. Today he led Canada into a bowl quarter-final showdown with Tonga, after they upset South Africa.
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