CAPE TOWN, SA – The second tournament of the sevens season was nothing like the first tournament of the season. A large part of the games in Dubai went to script, where as in Cape Town, the vast majority of sides forgot to read the script. For the USA, it was another lesson in the importance of complete focus. Not just focus all tournament long, but all game long because, switching off for one second can be deadly. For the rest of the world, South Africa may have won but they did so un-impressively which means they have room to improve but also they are very vulnerable.
America Losing focus:
The Eagles 7s finished sixth in Cape Town and have the highest series ranking they have had in the history of the 7s series after two rounds. The Eagles went 2-1 on day one and could have been undefeated. The USA got off to a less than impressive start in taking down Wales. They then steamrolled Portugal to secure a place in the Cup. They then lost a wild and weird match to Australia. Rather then kick the ball out and earn a draw, USA coach Mike Friday urged his side to go for the win. Unfortunately, the USA got isolated, Australia got a turnover and went down to score and win the game. Coach Friday said he was disappointed in the result but encouraged by the initiative shown by his charges.
Day 2 began with a thud as the USA fell to Kenya. Most fans expected the USA to defeat Kenya as the USA had been doing the last few games. However, Kenya came to play and challenged the USA at every opportunity. It may have been a first match of the day slow start or maybe the Kenya’s playing out of their skin in the one tournament that is as close to home one as they get. Either way, the USA lost the cup quater-final and fell into the Plate semi-finals. Once again the USA was drawn with New Zealand who were coming off a loss to Argentina. The USA, to the surprise of some, continued their win streak against the Kiwis, who though badly out of form continue and suffering several injuries to win their group. The USA then moved into the Plate final were they surprisingly played Fiji. The Fiji’s were looking for redemption after they lost their Cup quater-final to France and they won comfortably.
For USA rugby fans, we are not sure what to say. Maybe this is a sign of how far things have come. Two years ago a sixth place finish would have had fans excited. Now sixth place feels like a cop out. The team is better than this and is more capable than this. They were not prepared for the challenge the Kenya brought and they were shown up by the Fijians. This is what progress feels like. It feels like dissatisfaction with a sixth place finish. I guess then that feels good.
Blitztbokke Back to Back to Back:
The South African Blitzbokke 7s team won the South African 7s leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens World Series for the third straight year. It wasn’t pretty but they got it done. They played ugly and lowing scoring games through most of the matches. Losing to Kenya in pool play and grinding out a win against England to make the Cup playoffs. They improved their play in the playoff rounds and finished it with a solid win over Argentina to take the title.
France continue their impressive form from Dubai and have secured third place over Kenya. Once again they loss to New Zealand in pool play but bounced back to defeat Fiji in the cup quarters before losing to eventual winners South Africa in the semis. As mentioned earlier Fiji lost to France in the cup quarterfinals but then bounced back to win the Plate over the USA.
Scotland found some form on the second day to go forward and defeat a very poor performing England side to win the Bowl. Samoa lost to both New Zealand and France in group play. The rebounded well after losing to Scotland on day 2 to win the Shield.
Final standings were be
Cup: South Africa
The series takes a break before the third leg starts. However, Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament when it does.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.