With all the gold on the line, odds are that the teams lining up for this weekends Round 5 HSBC Sevens Series will be focused on the bright lights, big city, of the USA 7’s.
It has grown into a flamboyant and entertaining three days. Now the women’s series has been added–it just grew ten-fold. And in Nevada, everything is bigger, brighter and bound to draw a crowd.
Yesterday, all the men’s and women’s teams paraded through the Fremont Street mall in front of a huge crowd. It reinforced the decision to grow the already ‘full’ event. Beside the HSBC series tournaments, their is an invitational tournament on the fields around Sam Boyd Stadium--so like Dubai, it is a big occasion. And what else would you expect in Vegas…bigger, brighter and sure to impress.
Round 5 HSBC Sevens Series: Bright Lights, Big City, USA 7’s
— USA Sevens Rugby (@USASevensRugby) February 14, 2017
With the midway point approaching, many sides have settled on their squads. The players here, are likely the same as who played in Wellington and Sydney, so it will have helped in continuity. The only change might be in which teams you are drawn against, but the focus is similar–aim high.
Las Vegas Men’s Draw
Pool A – series leaders South Africa, Wales, Canada and France
With an incredible three tournament wins, the Blitzbok are holding most of the cards. It will be on the chasers to dethrone them. Wales and Canada have form with them, and must find a way to break through the African defense; who hold many of the top defensive stats.
France may be simply chasing their tail, and may benefit after Canada expend all their energies on Day One. That key clash could determine which team reached the qualifying stages.
South Africa squad: Chris Dry, Phillip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Werner Kok, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Branco du Preez, Stephan Dippenaar, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Rosko Specman, Ruhan Nel, Stedman Gans.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 2, 2017
Wales squad: Owen Lane, Morgan Williams, Stefan Andrews, Luke Morgan, Owen Jenkins, Tom G Williams, Ethan Davies, Lloyd Evans, Adam Thomas, Sam Cross, James Benjamin, Ben Roach, Lloyd Lewis.
Canada squad: Luke Bradley, Phil Berna, Mike Fuailefau, John Moonlight, Luke McClosky, Isaac Kay, Lucas Hammond, Justin Douglas, Nathan Hirayama, Pat Kay, Harry Jones, Adam Zaruba, Caleb Jordan.
France squad: Jonathan Laugel, Alexandre Lagarde, Jean Baptiste Mazoue, Terry Bouhraoua, Stephen Parez, Jean Pascal Barraque, Bastien Berenguel, Pierre Gilles Lakafia, Jeremy Aicardi, Julien Candelon, Kelegh Moutome, Vincent Inigo, Sacha Valleau.
Pool B – USA will host England, Samoa and Chile
With England near the top of the pile, it is between Team USA and Samoa. And the Pacific Islanders will be wanting some of this promise, to be fulfilled. Sir Gordon Tietjens has put much effort in, and with many ex-pat fans in the US, they should feel right at home.
The American side will hope to roll the dice, use their speed and rely on home town support. But is that enough? Coach Mike Friday will still want to see development, as do the invited side Chile. Of their squad, only one player has ever played before in a World Rugby/IRB tournament.
United States squad: Pat Blair, Matai Leuta, Danny Barrett, Ben Pinkleman, Walt Elder, Andrew Durutalo, Folau Niua, Maka Unufe, Stephen Tomasin, Madison Hughes, Perry Baker, Martin Iosefo, Malon Aljiboori.
England squad: Richard de Carpentier, Charlie Hayter, Phil Burgess, Dan Norton, James Rodwell, Tom Mitcheel, Dan Bibby, Tom Bowen, Oliver Lindsay-Hague, Ruaridh McConnochie, Ethan Waddleton, Alex Davis, Charlton Kerr.
— Tom Mitchell (@TBobbyMitchell) March 3, 2017
Samoa squad: Afa Aiono, Faalemiga Selesele, Alamanda Motuga, Lafaele Vaa, Savelio Ropati, Neria Fomai, Laaloi Leilua, Danny Kayes, Tila Mealoi, Samoa Toloa, Joe Perez, Lester Sefo, Alex Samoa.
Chile squad: Felipe Brangier, Francisco Metuaze, Bernardo Moltedo, Marcelo Torrealba, Francisco Urroz, Lucas Westcott, Igancio Silva, Joaquin Huici, Benjamin De Vidts, Nicolas Herreros, Julio Blanc, Martin Raddatz, Vicente Ayarza.
Pool C – New Zealand, Argentina, Russia and Kenya
The Kiwi’s face Kenya yet again, and this long history is one where the Africa side recently, have upset the New Zealand team. That will be the key game, and Argentina will need to play at their very best, to threaten either team.
Russia will want to halt a decline. Not that their men cannot play, it is getting past the mental block–once they can believe in their abilities, then it will promote that team more consistently.
New Zealand squad: Tone Ng Shiu, Tim Mikkelson, Trael Joass, DJ Forbes, Dylan Collier, Beaudein Waaka, Iopu Iopu-Aso, Vilimoni Koroi, Sherwin Stowers, Andrew Knewstubb, Isaac Te Tamaki, Sione Molia, Ambrose Curtis.
Argentina squad: Renzo Barbier, Lucas Belloto, Fernando Luna, Nicolas Menendez, Jose Barros Sosa, Matias Osadczuk, Bautista Delguy, Joaquin Riera, Gaston Revol, Felipe del Mestre, Franco Sabato, Luciano Gonzalez Rizzoni, Javier Rojas.
Russian squad: Stanislav Bondarev, Eme Patris Peki, Vladislav Sozonov, Vladislav Lazarenko, Alexey Kapalin, Vitaly Zhivatov, Eduard Filatov, Dmitry Sukhin, Roman Roshchin, Ilya Babaev, Ivan Kotov, German Davydov, Timur Urazakov.
Kenyan squad: Bush Mwale, Frank Wanyama, Daniel Sikuta, Augustine Lugonzo, Billy Odhiambo, Samuel Oliech, Eden Agero, Andrew Amonde, Nelson Oyoo, Leonard Mugaisi, Collins Injera, Willy Ambaka, Oscar Ayodi.
Pool D – Australia, Fiji, Japan and Scotland
After the horrible run of injuries, Australia bring back Ed Jenkins. He will inject some solidity into the team who reached the Cup semi final. Fiji did not, so will want to get back to winning ways [current Vegas champions] while Scotland are a real threat.
— Jill Scanlon (@jdscanlon) March 3, 2017
The Bravehearts will know that their Six Nations men and women are doing well, so that should embolden them to win one, or both of the big matches–Japan should be respected though. Never underestimate the Rising Sun.
Australian squad: Henry Hutchison, Liam McNamara, Sam Myers, Alex Gibbon, James Stannard, Tate McDermott, Tim Anstee, Tom Lucas, Ed Jenkins, Nick Malouf, Brandon Quinn, Lachie Anderson, Simon Kennewell.
Fiji squad: Nemani Nagusa, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Kalione Nasoko, Apisai Domolailai, Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Mesulame Kunavula, Osea Kolinisau, Vatemo Ravouvou, Jerry Tuwai, Samisoni Viriviri, Joeli Lutumailagi, Waisea Nacuqu, Alivereti Veitokani.
Japan squad: Naoki Motomura, Dallas Tatana, Kameli Soejima, Jonmoon Han, Patrick Stehlin, Dai Ozawa, Katsuyuki Sakai, Rikiya Oishi, Ryota Kano, Kosuke Hashino, Masahiro Nakano, Kazuhiro Goya, Hironori Yatomi.
Scotland squad: Scott Riddell, Dougie Fife, Ally Miller, Gregor Hunter, Tom Brown, Mark Robertson, Jamie Farndale, Joe Nayacavou, Sean Kennedy, Scott Wight, James Flemming, Fraser Lyle, Hugh Blake.
And with that, sides focus on the Round 5 HSBC Sevens Series will bring either success, or disappointment. The best prepared teams will complete Day One and be set for more opportunities. That is what the game is about–taking opportunities. Seven minutes may seem limited, but those teams who are opportunistic, should prevail over the ‘safety first’ attitude.
Just like they say in Vegas–chance your arm!
Men’s Sevens Standings
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 5, 2017
No questions it will take a colossal effort to redress the lead held by South Africa–but just like any game of sevens, anything is possible!! It is going to be an enjoyable weekend, and Last Word On Rugby will bring coverage of both the women’s and men’s results over the weekend.
“Main photo credit”