HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

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HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

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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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by lostinwales on Sun 03 Mar 2019, 8:52 am

Thanks for putting these reports together Rugby Fan.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by westisbest on Sun 03 Mar 2019, 9:44 pm

Great semi final between USA and NZ.
Great win for USA with the last play, game tied at 19-19. Isles with the deciding try.

USA without Baker and Barrett

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 12:18 am

After the disappointment of missing out on a potentially smooth route to the final, England did as well as they could today. A convincing win over Australia, and a late winner against Fiji gives us 5th place in Vegas.

The Fiji match was a thriller. Ryan Olowofela (Jordan's twin brother) came off the bench and scored, which made it a one point game, with 20 seconds left. He then made the key break to set up our winner.

That gives us a good couple of scalps, which is handy, because we have a patchy record against some of the traditionally strong sides recently. Importantly, we also get more ponts this round than South Africa and Australia, who are probably our main rivals for an Olympic qualifying spot. As it stands now, halfway through the season, Fiji, NZ and USA look good for the other three places.


Last edited by Rugby Fan on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 1:10 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 1:08 am

USA held Samoa scoreless in the Vegas final, winning 27-0. That's their first win this season, after four second-place finishes, and takes them clear of New Zealand at the top.

Samoa couldn't live with USA but it is significant they made the final. Samoa won't get a top four spot but will be competitive in the Oceania qualification play-off, and final reperchage.

If South Africa miss out of a top four spot, then they will almost certainly win the Africa play-off, at the expense of Kenya, who aren't the force they were. However, If England and Australia miss out, then their qualification routes will be much harder.

After 5 rounds, the top 4 sides are currently USA, NZ, Fiji and England. They all have British coaches, which is not something you'll hear noted very much in the south. If I have got my sums right, England only have a point advantage over South Africa, so that's by no means a safe position to be in.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by yappysnap on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 1:48 am

Thanks for all the info RF.

Who are the coaches of those 4 sides? Interesting that they're all British, it's not something you see much in 15's.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 04 Mar 2019, 2:23 am

USA - Mike Friday (English - former captain, then coach of England Sevens. Also, Kenya)
NZ - Clark Laidlaw (Scottish - Former Scotland 7s, Roy Laidlaw's son & cousin to Greig)
Fiji - Gareth Baber (Welsh - former Wales U20 coach. Also Cardiff Blues & HK Sevens)
England - Simon Amor (English - former England sevens & IRB 7s Player of the Year)

Canada is coached by Englishman Damian McGrath. He's a former league player, who was an assistant coach with England, before taking the head coach role with Samoa. He took the Canada job in October 2016, and they won their first series title under him.

Another non-national among the top teams is Sir Gordon Tietjens, the former NZ sevens head coach, who took over from McGrath with Samoa.

Former Welsh sevens coach Paul John was appointed coach of the Hong Kong sevens side, after Gareth Baber left for Fiji. John was coach when Wales won the sevens World Cup in 2009. Hong Kong are not a core side on the HSBC circuit but, as Japan qualify automatically for the Tokyo Olympics, they could win the Asian qualifying round.

Until last year, New Zealander Damian Karauna coached Japan, but his contract wasn't renewed, and the JRU appointed Kensuke Iwabuchi, who used to captain the sevens side (and once signed a pro contract with with Saracens).

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Tue 05 Mar 2019, 12:56 am

The pools are out for Vancouver. They are an indication of how important the draw is to your prospects. Scotland might beat Argentina or England (and would have been a good bet to do so in previous seasons) but they aren't functioning right now, so it would take a one-off effort to do so. Always possible in sevens, of course.

Still, if Argentina and England do qualify for the quarter finals, they face one of the top two teams in Pool A, which will almost cetainly be SA and USA. You probably want to avoid USA right now but South Africa aren't much weaker so that's a tough quarter final either way.

Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia will fancy their chances at qualifying from Pool C, and their route will put them against one of Fiji, Samoa, Kenya, or Canada. Without doubt, the one to avoid there is Fiji. Get one of the other three, and you'd fancy your chances at making the semi-final (albeit Samoa did beat Australia in Vegas).

Probably England's best outcome would be to top the pool, face SA and beat them, while Australia get knocked out in a quarter final by Fiji. That would mean, whatever happened afterwards, we would earn more points than both Australia and SA, who are our direct rivals for that fourth Olympic qialifying spot.

Invariably, though, when I project forward like that, England go and get a fistful of yellow cards, and never make it out of the pool.

Pool A
USA
SA
Chile
Wales

Pool B
Samoa
Fiji
Kenya
Canada

Pool C
NZ
Australia
Spain
France

Pool D
Argentina
England
Scotland
Japan

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Wed 06 Mar 2019, 10:22 pm

Well, that would be a turn for the worse.

The England Sevens team is facing the axe as part of 'brutal' cost- cutting measures being considered by the Rugby Football Union.

The move comes as Twickenham sources claim the governing body must make deeper than expected savings of up to £10million in the next financial year because of its troubled financial position...

...It is understood the squad could be disbanded as early as July, with the RFU hoping to switch permanently to a Team GB model in order to save around £2m a year. The RFU believes savings could be made as the Scottish and Welsh Unions would share in the costs, and it would also attract Olympic funding from UK Sport.

Twickenham insiders hope that incoming chief executive Bill Sweeney, who is joining the governing body from the British Olympic Association this year, will have the clout to be able to deliver on this model, otherwise the entire sevens programme, including the women’s side, could be wound up.

The men’s sevens programme, which includes around 20 players on full-time contracts ranging from around £25,000 up to £90,000 per year, is also at particular risk because it is one of the few areas of professional investment where the RFU can make significant cuts.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-sevens/2019/03/06/england-sevens-facing-axe-rfu-scramble-cut-costs/

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Wed 06 Mar 2019, 11:19 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:Well, that would be a turn for the worse.
There is an argument for making Team GB the centre of our sevens programmes but that's a debate you want to have properly, and not knee-jerking into it. All teams will still need to compete separately at the Commonwealth Games, where Rugby Sevens has no danger of being dropped from the schedule. The Olympics reviews sports all the time, and team sports are especially vulnerable because of the number of athletes involved. I haven't heard that Sevens is under threat but, as a new sport, it will be monitored closely.

The news breaking now is bad timing because the England team is in the middle of a hard-fought Olympic qualification season. You don't want players taking the field worried about their financial future in the game. The other sadness is that the sevens programmes have been great nurseries for coaching talent. As mentioned above, the top four teams in the HSBC Sevens series right now, are coached by two Englishmen, a Scot, and a Welshman. We carry a lot of weight in this code, and reducing opportunities by 66% will threaten our overall involvement.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Cyril on Wed 06 Mar 2019, 11:29 pm

There’s no real correlation between 7s and the union side these days, so maybe a good thing in terms on financing for the RFU. It’s not like any English players come through 7s and benefit the proper international squad like in the past. Save money and join it up for GB.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by BigGee on Wed 06 Mar 2019, 11:43 pm

Cyril wrote:There’s no real correlation between 7s and the union side these days, so maybe a good thing in terms on financing for the RFU. It’s not like any English players come through 7s and benefit the proper international squad like in the past. Save money and join it up for GB.

That assumes that the other UK countries would want to do that.

Scotland certainly do use their sevens program as a development pathway, with several internationals, Horne, Graham and Bennett amaonst others, all having spent some time in the program.

I can almost guarantee zero interest from Scottish fans if they were to play under the GB banner outside of the Olympics and I can't see the SRU touching that with a bargepole.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Cyril on Wed 06 Mar 2019, 11:49 pm

Yep, sorry. I was only looking at it from the RFU point of view. It’s a real anomaly as a sport. Similarly with the news that there will be GB League side touring again which will be basically England.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 12:22 am

Cyril wrote:There’s no real correlation between 7s and the union side these days
There isn't but there should be. Almost every other team uses 7s as a way to nurture talent for the larger code , and England used to do that too.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Cyril on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 12:37 am

I disagree. Yes, 7s was an avenue for England players years ago. The game has moved on. Most top sides (NZ etc) sees 7s as a side show ( and quite rightly). If the RFU needs to cut costs to help the international side then good, cut the 7s.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 2:29 am

Cyril wrote:..Most top sides (NZ etc) sees 7s as a side show...

Most sides see sevens as subordinate to fifteens but that doesn't mean they haven't found a way to use sevens as a development tool. Look at the current Argentinian squad. A lot of those players got a start in sevens, including Jerónimo de la Fuente, Bautista Ezcurra, Matías Moroni, Javier Ortega Desio and Pablo Matera.

Here are some players who have turned out for the New Zealand sevens side in recent years: Beauden Barrett, Adam Thomson, Ben Smith, Jerome Kaino, Charles Piutau, Rieko Ioane & Liam Messam.

England have had nothing remotely like that kind of participation. The last top English Test player with a half-decent sevens career was Danny Care in 2005/6. Ruaridh McConnochie and Marcus Watson can play well enough in the longer code, but no-one is talking about international careers for them.


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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by yappysnap on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 5:17 am

Matt Tait did well in the 7's too didn't he?

Ollie Lindsey-Hague as well I think, although I think he is now only a 7's player.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 6:22 am

yappysnap wrote:Matt Tait did well in the 7's too didn't he?
Mat Tait is almost a perfect example of how the 7s programme should work. Brian Ashton saw he was a talent, and got him involved with Sevens, when the junior game was less well-developed. After Robinson selected him, then dropped him, he used the Sevens programme as a way to get his mojo back, which led to a place in the 2007 World Cup squad. He never went back, but his England Test career also  stopped in 2010. If he had stayed in the shorter code, his body might have lasted longer.

Ollie Lindsay-Hague would have been a great 7s player, up there with Tom Mitchell and Dan Bibby, but started his career a bit too late. He's still a fine, creative sevens player but should have been identified earlier, and encouraged to play sevens when he was young, as Tait was.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 10:33 am

Here are some Scottish players who have featured in both Sevens and full tests:

Dougie Fife, Stuart Hogg, Blair Kinghorn, Richie Vernon, Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont, Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Magnus Bradbury & Darcy Graham

Can't really remember the Welsh players as much but the squad at the last Commonwealth Games included Justin Tipuric and Hallam Amos, while James Davies was a Team GB medallist.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 5:23 pm

Should note that Ben Ryan welcomes the idea of a Team GB set-up. Here are three tweets he sent earlier.

I think Team GB is a good idea from a performance angle and at the top end of international rugby, it’s all about performance. The piece around RFU cost cutting I hadn’t heard of before for a reason to cut the programme.

I know some supporters won’t be fans - it’s my opinion and it all depends what the home nations want. If it’s development then keep it as it is. If they want genuine and consistent chance of Olympic golds and a World Series title then it needs to be a GB team.

A combined GB team still develops talent from all the home nations & they get a better chance to be successful whilst reducing everyone’s budgets.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by BigGee on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 5:36 pm

A combined GB team will effectively be England with a GB moniker attached to it and funding from other sources than the RFU. It is not going to appeal to anyone other than England.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Mar 2019, 11:20 pm

BigGee wrote:A combined GB team will effectively be England with a GB moniker attached to it and funding from other sources than the RFU. It is not going to appeal to anyone other than England.

Just as in football, Scotland and Wales are concerned that folding into Team GB will undermine their claims to stand alone as independent unions in other areas. I don't think it's impossible they will consider some kind of more permanent Team GB arrangement but there's a lot of work to be done. Sevens isn't just a way to get experience for players, it's also a framework for coaching, strength & conditioning etc. If I was Wales or Scotland, I'd want some guarantees about how many of my people were going to be involved. As soon as you start having that kind of conversation, though, the project has weak foundations. This is in the Telegraph.

The RFU believes the savings would be made as the Scottish and Welsh unions would have to help with the costs, while it would then also attract Olympic funding from UK Sport.

The Scottish Rugby Union, however, has given no indication that it is prepared to switch its own Sevens programme permanently to a Great Britain model outside of Olympic years.

“The Scotland Sevens programmes are an integral part of our player development pathway, providing competitive environments to support the objective of developing players for the 15-a-side game,” said a spokesman.

“We are in regular dialogue with the RFU and WRU, as was the case ahead of Rio 2016, around the qualification process and forward planning for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where the aim again is to have Team GB Sevens sides competing.”

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Eejit on Fri 08 Mar 2019, 9:35 am

I am generally for anything that brings British sport closer together, including a British national team in football but without some major concessions from the RFU I can't see this ever happening. As we only have two pro teams, the sevens programme is tremendously important and the SRU won't get rid of it just because the RFU have overspent again.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sat 09 Mar 2019, 5:29 pm

First match in Vancouver was England vs Scotland, which had an extra edge after news that the RFU might de-fund the England sevens programme. England won 21-7

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 1:21 am

England beat Argentina to top the pool, which is something we couldn't manage last week.

Meanwhile Canada beat Fiji, Spain beat NZ, and France beat Australia, which jumbles things up a bit. If NZ can beat Australia, then the Australia might miss out on the quarter final, which would be handy for our Olympic chances. If NZ lose, then they will miss out. France beat Spain, so are already qualified, and may have enough points to top the group.

If Canada can beat Kenya, and Samoa beat Fiji, then Fiji might miss out on the quarters too. It would be good for the Vancouver crowd to see Canada go through instead.

Chile gave USA a scare but eventually lost. England will play the loser of USA v South Africa. Both are dauntig prospects but, since we are trying to fight off South Africa for fourth place, then that's probably the match we'd rather have.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 7:55 am

Fiji beat Samoa, so they both progress at the expense of Canada. New Zealand handily beat Australia, which means they didn't qualify, and England will outscore them in this round. South Africa beat USA, which was a bit of a surprise, and leaves England needing to beat USA in the quarter final. We haven't had a great record against them this season, so this weekend is as good a time as any, to put it right.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 12:57 pm

This was an outrageous piece of skill.


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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 10:23 pm

We ran USA close, but went down 19-21. The best we can hope for now is a 5th place finish. We beat Samoa but now have to down New Zealand to get those points.

Meanwhile, South Africa have a chance to leapfrog us. because they made it into the semis by beating Argentina. They are playing Fiji now for a place in the final. Even if they lose their remaining matches, the Blitzbokke will secure 15 ponts, while the best England can manage is 13, so we'll be swapping places one way or another.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 11:00 pm

Well, South Africa beat Fiji quite comfortably, And France did what we couldn't do, and smashed USA in their semi.

That's two bits of bad news for England. Not only will South Africa go above us, but we are also reminded that the European Olympic play-off will be highly competitive. France have beaten current top team USA, while Spain dispatched New Zealand. Both sides will have an eye on that Olympic qualification berth, as will Ireland.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Galted on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 11:25 pm

This has been a bizarre season when you consider it’s a bit of a surprise that SA made the final and a shock that the USA didn’t.
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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 11 Mar 2019, 2:58 am

South Africa claim the Cup, with France in second place. This is the first round to break the NZ/USA monopoly, which is good to keep things fresh. Unless England can come to the party in subsequent rounds, then we'll miss out on that all important fourth spot.

As it is, I've seen suggestions that Australia may try to draft in some Test talent to improve their chances. They are now 24 points behind South Africa, so I think they are, realistically, out of contention with four rounds to go.

England are also under the gun. Our gap is 9 points, which is doable, but we will probably need top four finishes at the same time the Blitzbokke miss out on points, so the odds are against us.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by yappysnap on Mon 11 Mar 2019, 3:42 am

If Oz and England miss out on Olympics this time around will they miss out on funding? Most things are money orientated, so if the Unions miss out on that Olympics money perhaps they'll decide to invest in the game more for the subsequent Olympics.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 11 Mar 2019, 3:55 am

yappysnap wrote:If Oz and England miss out on Olympics this time around will they miss out on funding? Most things are money orientated, so if the Unions miss out on that Olympics money perhaps they'll decide to invest in the game more for the subsequent Olympics.
Not sure. I think one of the reasons the RFU is looking at folding the England Sevens into a Team GB programme, is that it can get lottery funding in a way it doesn't now. However, lottery funding rewards success, so it may be moot if we don't qualify.

If Australia and England miss out on automatic qualification, then they will have to go through the respective regional qualifiers. As the top ranked teams in both, they would be favourites but it is no wash. Australia will face Samoa, who have started to regain the form which saw them regularly challenge for titles a decade ago. In a one-off meeting, Samoa could prevail. Similarly, England would usually have the measure of France and Spain but both are capable of beating us. Add to that, the wild card of Ireland, who showed up well during their invitation events last season, and England would have a hard route.

There is a remaining reperchage but it wouldn't be much weaker, since one of Australia and Samoa would be in competition, along with the other losing European teams.

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Re: HSBC Sevens 2018/2019

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