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Commonwealth Games Sevens 2022

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Commonwealth Games Sevens 2022 Empty Commonwealth Games Sevens 2022

Post by Rugby Fan Sat 30 Jul 2022, 2:51 am

The sevens at the Commonwealth Games is going to be an anomaly for the three Team GB Unions.

Last week, Scotland, Wales and England announced they would be combining their mens and womens teams into a Great Britain side, to compete in the HSBC World Series from 2023. While this means more continuity with the Olympic effort, that's about the only benefit. Well, there's a benefit to Wales, who are on the verge of being relegated from the Series, so Welsh players will still have a theoretical chance of top level sevens.

Overall, it means there'll be about two dozen fewer professional sevens contracts across the three unions, and a totally opaque pathway to into the Great Britain Sevens side.

Also, every four years, Scotland, England and Wales will have to split up again, to compete in the Commonwealth Games. It's the reverse of the Olympic problem, when the three separate sides had to suddenly combine every four years. It's also a harder problem, as the three countries will have to conjure up the additional players from somewhere, only to ditch them after the Games.

This year's Games has given us a look at how things might work out, and it hasn't been pretty for the mens teams. In the pool matches, Wales lost 31-0 to Canada, and England lost 34-0 to Samoa. It's rare for a competitive sevens side to fail to score a point. Even Sri Lanka managed one try, when they went down 61-5 to New Zealand. While neither side is out of medal contention completely, England will probably have to beat reigning Commonwealth champions, NZ, and Wales will have to beat silver medallists Fiji. Scotland have an easier pool, which should see them qualify, though their next match against South Africa will be a true measure of where they are.

It's not surprising the mens squads are not functioning. No elite professional rugby player wants to be part of a sevens progarmme which is going to end, because it's hard enough securing a future in rugby as it is right now.

Sadly, after the Commonwealth Games, we have the Sevens World Cup in September, where Scotland, Wales and England will again be competing separately.


Last edited by Rugby Fan on Sat 30 Jul 2022, 4:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Rugby Fan Sat 30 Jul 2022, 1:48 pm

So far today,

NZ 20-0 England
South Africa 34-0 Scotland

It's has come to something when you stop hoping your team will win, and start hoping they won't lose too badly. And still be let down.

To put these scores into perspective, Uganda, a team nowhere near the World Series, held Australia to a 12-12 draw yesterday.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sat 30 Jul 2022, 2:02 pm

Wales were better value against Fiji, going down 38-24. Fiji were always in control, but Wales made sure it wasn't a walkover.



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Post by Rugby Fan Sat 30 Jul 2022, 2:51 pm

England Women are out of the medals too, after losses to Canada and NZ.

Supporters and pundits were up in arms, when England went out of the pool stages at a home World Cup. If any other top teams had performed as badly at a home Commonwealth Games as England just have, they would be eviscerated by their local press. In England, it's doubtful anyone has noticed. Most English rugby pundits are on holiday after the summer tours, so they aren't paying attention.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 31 Jul 2022, 4:12 am

The Independent has noticed:

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/commonwealth-games/2022-rugby-sevens-birmingham-england-scotland-wales-b2134769.html

A home nations humbling at the Commonwealth Games has only exacerbated the turmoil in rugby sevens ahead of next season’s merger of England, Scotland, and Wales. Only Scotland’s men made it through to the knockout phase at Birmingham 2022, with Team England’s men and women both falling short of the medal matches in Coventry.

This year’s hosts claimed double bronze at Gold Coast 2018 but comprehensive defeats to New Zealand in their final group games ensured there would be no repeat four years later. Those results come off the back of the decision from the three unions to combine once again to form Great Britain men’s and women’s teams for the 2023 World Sevens Series.

And opinion amongst the players was mixed on the future direction of the sevens game, with Welsh winger Lloyd Lewis concerned about impact it will have on his country’s team.

“Obviously, it’s come out in the press that it’s going to GB sevens now for next season which is a bit disappointing as a lot of the boys will miss out,” said Lewis. “We don’t really know what’s happening. It’s all up in the air but as a squad we’re just focusing on this, finishing the World Series in LA in August and then the World Cup in September. We’re all just trying to enjoy our time in the jersey while we can.”

Tyler Morgan has only recently joined the sevens programme and admitted it is a shame that chances could be more limited once the home nations combine to form GB again.

“I’m not sure how the programme is going to look next year,” said Morgan, who also featured alongside Lewis for Wales in their 38-24 defeat to the formidable Fiji in their final Pool C game. “There will still be some sort of Wales setup but just not in the World Sevens Series and there should be a lot of boys here going to GB as we have got a decent set of players here. They are talented guys and very good individuals so hopefully a lot of them go on to represent GB but it’s a shame there’s only one World Sevens Series tournament left for us."

" I can’t really say what the future is going to look like, we’re going to have to wait a year or two to see how it goes. Obviously having less players playing at the top level is difficult. You have less exposure than if you’re on a stronger team competing for trophies, but you learn a lot about winning. It’s a fine balance and we probably won’t know until four years’ time.”

The home nation sides previously came to gather under the GB banner in 2021 amid funding cuts in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games, with England’s players losing their central contracts in August 2020 because of the financial impact of the Covid pandemic. But Team England captain Alex Davis, speaking after his side were handed a 20-0 defeat by the Kiwis in their final Pool A game, backed the move to combine the unions again.

“It’s a big step up and I think it’s great for the home nations and for the growth of British sevens, with the Olympics being the pinnacle of the sport now. I think it’s the right thing,” said Davis. His thoughts were echoed by Tom Bowen, another member of the bronze medal-winning squad on the Gold Coast, who believes the GB approach will provide something to aspire to.

“It will just bring a bit more depth because as an England programme we only have eight contracts this year and we’re bringing boys in and out,” said the 28-year-old sevens veteran. “Hopefully as the GB programme we can have a lot more full-time players, we can be professional the whole time and just be able to drive that environment. We can have something for sevens players to aspire to, something that we can put on that pedestal and say look if you’re playing well you can play for GB. A proper career paths.”

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 31 Jul 2022, 5:17 am

Kate Rowan at The Telegraph also laments the failure

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2022/07/30/commonwealth-games-2022-day-two-live-latest-birmingham-marathon/

England's Sevens programme suffered one of its bleakest days on Saturday as both the men's and women's side crashed out of medal contention on the second day of competition at the Commonwealth Games.

Both sides were well beaten by New Zealand, confirming their relegation to placement matches for the remainder of the tournament. England women lost 38-7 and the men went down 20-0, following a stuttering start on Saturday when they had suffered pivotal losses to Canada and Samoa respectively.

The result is especially disappointing considering English players made up the bulk of the Team GB squads that both finished fourth at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Four years ago, the two teams clinched bronze medals at the previous Games on the Gold Coast.

The men's squad has undergone a massive overhaul over the past few years with key players like Tom Mitchell and Dan Norton no longer involved in the programme. Their struggles were therefore somewhat to be expected, especially since they also started this season with just eight full-time contracted players and just two survivors from the 2020 redundancies in captain Alex Davis, who put in an admirable performance leading this young squad, and Tom Bowen.

In the men's defeat to reigning Commonwealth and World champions New Zealand, England looked naïve in attack despite keeping the game scoreless for the first half. The experience New Zealand were able to bring on with the likes of 34-year-old veteran Scott Curry made a big difference after the break.

This difference in experience levels could be seen in how the Kiwis held tight to not concede despite good work from the likes of England's 22-year-old Api Bavadra.

England captain Davis acknowledged lack of experience and the number of players contracted was an issue.

“It is tough. I know it is a cliche but you can only control what you can control – obviously those decisions are made by people other than us and we’re just trying to make the most of the position we are in and if that means we go into tournaments with eight guys on contracts, we do that and we bring in other guys. We can speak about the buy-in from everyone that has been outstanding. Obviously, we would love to have more contracts but that is just the reality.

“I am disappointed [with the results] but I think we did what we set out to do in terms of making New Zealand work. We just wanted to stay in the fight moment to moment and we did that,” said the 29-year-old.

“If you are looking at it objectively, losing two out of three pool games especially at a home tournament is far from ideal. Last night we talked about how we had 12 Commonwealth debuts yesterday [across the men’s and women’s sides] which is something we are hugely proud of but of course we would like to be in the quarterfinals and now we have the opportunity to learn and grow [in the placing matches]."

It feels as though England missed an opportunity to grow the game of sevens in front of a home crowd. New Zealand’s men performed well because of the continuity of their sevens specialists, but England do have talented players who could have been used with the likes of Bath’s Will Muir and Richard de Carpentier as well as Saracens up-and-comer and star of Tokyo Ben Harris.

Could something have been done to attract these players back in considering the occasion? Could senior players such as Dan Norton who retired earlier this year been persuaded for a special Birmingham swansong?

Regardless of the answers, the new Team GB set up that was announced this week should be looking to New Zealand for inspiration on how to run a successful sevens programme. It is sad because England had one for many years.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 31 Jul 2022, 1:38 pm

While the stadium in Coventry for the the England vs Wales match wasn't full, there's clearly a decent crowd there making a good atmosphere. It's in easy range of Wasps, Saints and Leicester, so it was a perfect chance to put rugby in front of a good audience at the ground, and on TV.

It's outrageous that the RFU threw away this opportunity for mens and womens rugby in England.


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