HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 30 Nov 2018, 12:48 am

First topic message reminder :

The men's tournament kicks off this weekend in Dubai. This one is key for Olympic qualification in Tokyo, as only the top four teams will be guaranteed automatic qualification. Four years ago, that was Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and England (i.e. GB). Last year, Australia claimed fourth, with England a point behind in fifth. It will be a major surprise if the other three don't finish in the top 4, so the main fight is likely to be for that final place, with Australia, USA, Argentina, Kenya and Canada among the challengers to keep Team GB out.

There was talk after Rio of combining Wales, Scotland and England into Team GB for the overall Sevens series but that didn't really go anywhere.

England are without one of last season's best players, Ruaridh McConnochie, who signed a contract with Bath. Simon Amor has said the squad is slightly smaller this year but is optimistic about quality. He's got two school players who couldn't get academy contracts, which gives you some idea of how things work in the short code. It's crazy that we have no access to promising academy players.

We've lost Tony Roques from the coaching squad, so James Rodwell and Charlie Hayter have stepped into player-coach roles, with responsibility for coaching Women Sevens too, now that the England Mens and Womens programmes have been combined (the Womens Sevens also has a round in Dubai. It has kicked off already, with England going unbeaten on the first day, managing a surprise win over Australia, and a last-gasp victory over USA)

Simon Amor has said this is the most competitive year for Sevens, with qualification at stake. In the season just before the Olympics, teams tend to switch things around, to try different tactics, or look to keep players fresh.

England's pool in Dubai includes Australia, Canada and Japan, so that's a good chance to measure ourselves, and try to get an early advantage in the qualification race. Wales are in a pool with New Zealand, Spain and USA, while Scotland match up against Fiji, France and Kenya.


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Post by Galted on Sat 06 Apr 2019, 11:16 pm

Pie wrote:Wales beat no 1 team in the world

Would’ve been through to the cup quarter-finals if they’d followed it up with a shock win over Spain.
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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 07 Apr 2019, 4:00 am

Pie wrote:Wales beat no 1 team in the world
And now they have just lost 7-38 to Japan. That might be a unique double in HSBC series history: beating the team at the top of the table and losing to the team at the bottom over the same weekend.

It's infuriating because Wales have some good players. They won the World Cup in 2009, so it's not alien to their rugby DNA. The loss to Japan puts Wales at serious risk of being relegated. Wales and Kenya started the tournament on 18 points, while Japan were bottom on 14. Kenya and Japan are now both guaranteed to get more points than Wales in Hong Kong, so the gap will definitely close, and Wales could even end this round in bottom position.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 07 Apr 2019, 4:24 am

USA have done England a solid by defeating South Africa. The Blizbokke have never won in Hong Kong, so that drought continues.

South Africa can now score no more than 13 points this weekend. If England can now beat Samoa, we are guaranteed at least 15, which will close the nine point gap between us in the oveall table.

There are only four rounds left, however, so 2 points each leg won't do it. We need a big difference, akin to the 10 point damage South Africa did to us last round. First, we have to beat Samoa.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 07 Apr 2019, 10:12 am

So, Ireland are in!

They beat Germany 10-19, and dispatched HK 28-7 in the final.

In other news, England blew their chance to close the gap on South Africa by losing to Samoa. We had a chance to contest the 5th place play-off, but lost to NZ. Both were close games but we've only got three more legs, and South Africa are looking in better shape overall.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 07 Apr 2019, 12:55 pm

Fiji won Hong Kong for the 5th year running, the first team to so (England and Fiji both had four successive HK wins).

England made no ground on South Africa. At least we didn't lose ground but there are only three rounds left. We can no longer rely on South Africa slipping up (unlike England, they have't failed to make the Cup quarter finals once). Instead, we'll need to try and win a title. The odds are against us, I'd say.

It's not as if we'll have an easy run in the European qualifying round. Ireland are a handy unit, Spain have beaten NZ this season, and France claimed second place in Hong Kong. Add in Portugal, Russia, and Germany, and that's some serious competition.

Wales did slip to the relegation spot, behind Japan and Kenya. It would be a great shame if Wales fell out of the top tier. The last two legs are in Europe, which might feel a bit like home advantage, but they are in a precarious position right now.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 4:53 am

Pool C for Singapore:

USA
England
Kenya
Wales

Almost exactly the same as HK (with Kenya in for Spain). Wales beat USA and troubled England, so you can't take anything for granted here, especially as Wales and Kenya are fighting a relegation battle.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 7:39 am

Good news for Wales, they just beat one of the two top seeds in the pool, which will give them a chance of qualifying for the Cup, which will greatly help in the fight to avoid relegation.

The bad news is they beat England. Unless Kenya can beat Wales, and England beat the USA (and then only if the points difference is sufficient), England will miss out on the quarter final, which will almost certainly end Team GB's chances at automatic Olympic qualification.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 11:08 am

So, Wales lost to Kenya, while England have gone 10-0 down to USA so far...

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Post by jimbopip on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 11:14 am

has MrsPip been sprinkling hallucinogens on to my all bran again? or have Scotland just beaten Fiji 19-12??? Yahoo

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 11:29 am

So, England lost 22-7 to USA, but still qualify for the Cup because Kenya and Wales were more inept. Seriously, the games in this pool were full of errors. England would have been knocked out if second place if we lost by more than 26 points, and it wasn't clear we'd get away with it until a scrum ate up almost 30 seconds of the final minute.

Unless we come out a different team tomorrow, we aren't going to make much impact. We are set to meet Australia, who have had a poor series but they beat France and Argentina, so look like they are in better form, just on today's results.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 11:30 am

jimbopip wrote:has MrsPip been sprinkling hallucinogens on to my all bran again? or have Scotland just beaten Fiji 19-12??? Yahoo
Yup! Final play. Now Scotland need South Africa to beat Fiji, and then get a victory against Canada themselves.


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Post by jimbopip on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 11:37 am

Thank you Rugby Fan Hug

Watched it three times now! Doubtless will watch it again. Yahoo

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 12:36 pm

Sadly, Scotland went down to Canada 10-33, so they'll finish bottom of the pool. Thsi tournament is a microcosm of the season for Scotland and Wales. They can take big scalps but immediately drop matches to lesser opposition, and end up playing for losers medals.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 13 Apr 2019, 4:09 pm

England named Femi Sofolarin as 13th man for Singapore, and he went straight into the squad when Tom Bowen dropped out. He was affiliated with Quins but seems to have signed directly to the England Sevens progamme. His school background seems English but he apparently got capped at U18 level for Scotland.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 14 Apr 2019, 1:40 pm

So, England took bronze in Singapore. Hurrah! That's our equal best finish this season, Trouble is, we need to make up ground on South Africa but they took gold, so they have stretched their lead to 14 points with two rounds left. Boo!

For me, it's over. The most points we've claimed in a round is 17 for 3rd place. We need to beat South Africa by more than seven points in each round, so they would have to get less than 10 points in each round to do that. So far this season, the Blitzbokke have never failed to score at least 10 points.

In short, if we do as well as we've done, and they do as badly, they'll still claim the fourth Olympic qualifying spot.

Certainly, it's still mathematically possible but highly unlikely. Only four teams have won gold medals this year, and they occupy the four qualifying spots. They deserve to qualify, and we don't.

This was a typical England tournament in some respects. we played pants on the first day, and it was only Kenya and Wales failing to capitalize which let us slip through.

We then faced Australia, who are playing worse than us, despite a good day yesterday, and we beat them, which is the best break we got all tournament.

We then had Fiji, and went down 12-0 before grabbing two tries back. We should have been in the lead but it was only 12-12 because we missed a relatively simple conversion. We got our second try during a Fiji yellow card, then looked like we had a third but the TMO decided we'd lost the ball during grounding. Next thing you know, we've shipped two tries and lost 26-12

Our last game was against series leaders USA, and we beat them. Mainly courtesy of a red card (two yellow card offences).

Wales had a bad tournament again but Japan had worse, so Wales moved four points clear of last place.

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Post by Galted on Sun 14 Apr 2019, 9:03 pm

England have NZ, Scotland and Ireland in their pool for the London 7s. Could be a tough one.
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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 15 Apr 2019, 5:22 am

Galted wrote:England have NZ, Scotland and Ireland in their pool for the London 7s. Could be a tough one.
Ireland showed they could be a handful in the European legs last year. I'd prefer them to show that form against NZ than England. The bad news is that South Africa have Argentina, Canada, and Japan in their pool. It's almost inconceivable they won't progress to the Cup quarter final, so they are virtually guaranteed a minimum of 10 points. There's a fair chance they could confirm their Olympic qualifying place this round, if England can't make the Cup quarter finals themselves.

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Post by yappysnap on Mon 15 Apr 2019, 6:44 am

RF, why are England now so bad at 7's?

Is it Ryan leaving? Players retiring? We just seem to be terrible now.

Cheers for the updates as always, they make good reading. If depressing.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 15 Apr 2019, 4:41 pm

yappysnap wrote:RF, why are England now so bad at 7's?
The reason we aren't challenging for titles is that we are old and small. We are easily the smallest major side, and even one of the smallest teams overall. We can get outmuscled by other teams. We are also old, when a sevens team should trend young. Dan Norton is 31; Phil Burgess & Charlie Hayter are 30; Tom Mitchell & Mike Ellery are 29; Dan Bibby, Richard de Carpentier, and Ollie Lindsay-Hague are 28.

Bear those ages in mind when you realize Maro Itoje and Ellis Genge are both 24, Sam Underhill is 22, Joe Cokanasiga is 21, and Tom Curry is 20,

The England XV side has brought through young talent but not the England sevens side. As wages have risen in the Premiership, squad sizes have been contracted, and most teams would rather keep everyone available, than send somone off to England sevens.

This means the sevens programme generally picks up Premiership rejects, and that isn't a good enough selection policy these days.  Dan Norton commited to sevens 10 years ao, and the continuity means he has kept improving.

Meanwhile, Mike Ellery got a start in sevens, went back to Saracens, and then came back to the short code. He'd have been better at sevens if he hadn't gone back. If Ollie Lindsay-Hague had played only sevens, he'd probably be regarded as one of the best players in the short code. As it is, he probably started too late.

Since James Rodwell moved on (he's now a coach and occasional back-up sqiad member) we haven't had any athletic back rows or locks in the squad. I'd give anything for a Dallaglio or Sheasby now. Leone Nakarawa is nearly 2m tall, and 110kg. You might not have a player his size in your squad but you need to know you have the ability to take him down.

The reason we are old, is that there is no functioning relationship between Premiership clubs and the England sevens set-up. There should have been players coming through to replace Mitchell, Bibby and Norton but there was a recruitment gap.

Still, we aren't as bad as "bad". We were World Cup silver medallists and Commonwealth Games bronze medallists last year. Team GB also won silver in Rio in 2016.

However, we aren't regularly challenging for titles any more. I still thought we had a chance at qualifying because, outside South Africa, NZ and Fiji, the other top teams were beating each other fairly regularly. What spoiled the party this year was the big improvement in USA, which has squeezed us out of the running.

Essentially, we have a sevens team which can raise it's game for a one-off silver World Cup or bronze Commonwealth medal. A bit like the way we stubbornly found our way to a XVs World Cup final in 2007.

To rectify matter, we need to open the talent pipeline again. Premiership sides shouldn't be as dismissive of the sevens circuit. Marcus Watson, James Davies, Darcy Graham, and Ruaridh McConnochie have shown that confidence in sevens works in the longer code.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Tue 16 Apr 2019, 5:24 pm

If you are interested in Sevens, then Rob Vickerman has a new podcast called The Travelling Circus. You can find it on Apple & Spotify.

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/sean-maloney-the-big-man-with-the-bigger-lines/id1458356921?i=1000434758341

https://open.spotify.com/show/5riJpWuiC5lZABSih6MO4h

So far, he has uploaded interviews with Dan Norton, and commentator Sean Maloney. He has Kurt Baker, Mike Friday, Werner Kok and Lewis Holland already in the can.

Norton was asked the best ever England player he'd played with, and he didn't hesitate to say Isao Damudamu. Vickerman agreed that he could do evertything. Damudamu came through the same army route as Rokodoguni.

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