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 Rugby Fan on Mon 03 Jun 2019, 1:39 pm

the-goon wrote:Also, why is this a 12 team tournament? 16 is far cleaner.
16 teams means too many matches for the Olympic schedule (the women's tournament has to be run too).

A combined total of 24 teams makes for 68 matches over six days. You don't have the early starts, or late finishes possible on the regular sevens circuit, so bumping it up to 32 teams would require at least one more day, probably two. Since rugby can lead to extra time, you have to build some redundancy into the Olympic schedule, as broadcasters want key finals to take place on time. Rio was smooth, with only one match going to extra time across the games.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 7:47 am

There have been rumblings after England fielded such a weakened side in Paris. While some feel England should never do that, regardless of circumstances, the main thing it showed up, is how shallow our resources are in Seven (notwithstanding the weakened side registered a better finish in Paris than the stronger squad had done in London)

As soon as Amor decided to rest most of our centrally-contracted players, he only really had schoolboys and students to put out. That's because Premiership, and even Championship teams, don't release players to England Sevens. Will Greenwood was sounding off furiously on the Sky podcast about how it would be so much better for personal development, if players were sent to sevens from the Premiership acadamies, instead of being kept in reserve, just in case the club suffers an injury crisis.

Ben Ryan pointed out how ridiculous it is that our Olympic preparation (if Team GB does manage to qualify) is going to be worse than four years ago, when everyone agreed it ought to be improved.

While I am worried that England won't qualify on behalf of Team GB I'm actually more concerned about England's overall future on the circuit. When we lost access to Premiership talent, England filled the gap by offering central contracts to existing experienced sevens prospects, and then talent-spotting for others. As the funding dried up, we have had a much harder job attracting talent.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 24 Jun 2019, 9:38 am

Confirmation England (and, therefore, Team GB) have no smooth run to Olympic qualification came in the Moscow Sevens tournament at the weekend.

England lost in the semi-finals to France, who went on to win the final by beating Ireland. We beat Germany in the third-place play off but will need to do better if we are going to win the European qualifier, which will be held in Colomiers over the weekend of the 13th and 14th July.

I'm not confident we will raise our game. As it stands, I'd pick Ireland and France to beat England 60% of the time, and even Germany would sneak an occasional win if they had all their best players available. France are probably overall favourites now, as they won Moscow, and will have home advantage of sorts.

If we don't win in Colomiers, we won't necessarily even get a last chance in the final reperchage, as we'd need to one of the best two runners-up in the European qualifier. We ought to be at least that, but any of Portugal, Spain and Germany are capable of giant-killing next month.

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