2017 DHL Oktoberfest 7s: Fiji Baabaas and South Africa Academy Both Favorites in Munich

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Oktoberfest 2013 - Opening Day
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 21: General view during day 1 of the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival at Theresienwiese on September 21, 2013 in Munich, Germany. The Munich Oktoberfest, which this year will run from September 21 through October 6, is the world's largest beer fest and draws millions of visitors. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

The picturesque city of Munich will play host to 12 leading sevens nations from the September 29-30. It will be the venue of the popular 2017 DHL Oktoberfest 7s. An ejoyable mix of traditional beer and music festival, with a sprinkling of sevens rugby to add some fireworks!

Besides the off-field events, fans will be treated to some breathtaking sevens rugby with sides preparing for the upcoming Sevens season. Considering that, Last Word on Rugby Sevens Guru Jovilisi Waqa see’s the Fiji Baabaas and the South Africa Academy 7s as favorites for Munich.

The tournament is organized in partnership between, the German Rugby Board (DRV) and World Rugby. DHL has come on board as the major sponsor of the tournament, to continue their presence behind the sport.

With that support, the tourney is expected to be televised and streamed live worldwide. Considering the ever growing popularity of the sport, the European nation have seized the opportunity to be part of it during the popular Oktoberfest.

Fiji Baabaas, South Africa Academy Favorites in Munich

Olympic champions Fiji are favorites in the season warm-up, along with South Africa. However, Australia, England, France and Argentina have named sides filled with regular HSBC Sevens Series starters.

On the other side of the coin, Uganda and Ireland are the underdogs. That does not mean that all teams will not gain from competing, as it will be two-days of pure adrenaline. All teams will be out to start the sevens season on a high, before  focusing on Dubai.

The ‘Fiji Baabaas’ side has a secret weapon in Banuve Tabakaucoro. The former track runner certainly has the wheelsHow he will adapt to the game, is what will be on the mind of every Fijian sevens fans minds, as they watch the Oktoberfest 7s on live television in the South Sea’s nation.

Pool A – South Africa, France, Spain, Portugal

South Africa

Dylan Sage will lead the South African Rugby Union (SARU) Academy 7s side. He will be assisted by winger Siviwe ‘Shakes’ Soyizwapi and Zain Davids, who have played in the HSBC Sevens Series circuit. It is a young academy side which coach Paul Delport is taking with him. He is giving these players a chance to prove their worth, to Blitzbok head coach Neill Powell.

“We managed to assemble a strong squad and it will be exciting to see how the guys go,’’ coach Delport told blitzbokke.com.

Zain Davids of South Africa (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Five players without any World Series experience will be featuring for the side. Sako Makata, Tythan Adams, Mosolwa Mafuma together with Impi Visser and Mfundo Ndhlovo will debut. They will take this opportunity to gain that much needed experience against some of the best.

It might be a young side, but they have trained well together and by rights will be the team to beat, along with Argentina.

SARU 7s squad: Marco Labuschagne, Sako Makata, Selvyn Davids, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ryan Oostheizen, Zain Davids, Dewald Human, Dylan Sage, Tythan Adams, Mosolwma Mafuma, Impi Visser, Mfundo Ndhlovo.

France

Like the Argentine side, the French have named mostly experienced players. They will be very hard to beat, and will test the Blitzbok Academy side in Pool play.

The Fijians and Australia should be worried about these boys too, especially after training under Ben Ryan. Alexandre Lagarde is back and will lead the charge with Sacha Valleau and Jeremy Aicardi. Pierre-Gilles Lakafia and Jonathan Laugel. Jean Baptise Mazoue will be vital in the breakdown.

French squad: Jeremy Aicardi, Samuel Alerte, Josias Daoudou, Johan Demai-Hamecher, Alexandre Lagarde, Pierre-Gilles Lakafia, Jonathan Laugel, Jean-Baptise Mazoue, Thibault Mazzoleni, Stephen Parez-Edo, Paulin Riva, Sacha Valleau.

Portugal

Our Portugal-based writer Francisco Isaac insight into the Portuguese side. The Portuguese coaches, António Aguilar and Martim Aguiar, will take this opportunity to tryout some new kids as Portugal is trying to rebuild their 7’s squad, which took a big fall in the last three seasons.

Without Pedro Leal, Adérito Esteves or Duarte Moreira, the Linces will show some future startlets like Jorge Abecassis (made a strong impression in Exeter’s Rugby Europe Sevens Championship), João Vital, António Vidinha and Diogo Cardoso, who will be captained by Portugal’s strongest number eight, Vasco Fragoso Mendes (played in different stages of the HSBC World Series for the Portuguese Side).

Los Linces squad: Antonio Vidinha, Diogo Cordoso, Diogo Pinto Basto, Diogo Ribeiro, Fabio Conceicao, Francisco Costa Campos, Francisco Vassalo, Gabriel Pop, Joao Fezas Vital, Jorge Abecasis, Vasco Baptista, Vasco Fragoso Mendez.

Spain

Pool B – England, Argentina, Germany, Uganda

England

England has named a relatively young side, with Will Edwards as captain. He will be assisted by the other experienced player in Caluum Sirker. They complement as side with juniors who shone at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

The English have a tough pool and it will be interesting how they fair. Head coach Simon Amor will certainly be trialling some players, but must be looking at the long term here in Munich.

“As the first international, invitational tournament of the season, this is the first step on the ladder for many of these young players.”

England squad: Jordan Ainslie, George Chatterton, Will Edwards (c), Lailand Gordon, Fergus Guiry, Ben Howard, Charlie Kingham, Ryan Olowofela, Callum Sirker, Charlie Spawforth, Mason Tonks, Ethan Waddleton.

Argentina

The Argentinians welcome back one of their superstars, leading to the beginning of the World Series in Dubai. Rodrigo Etchart is a crafty playmaker and finisher, his combination with Fernando Luna will be the key to Los Pumas success. Together with Franco Sabato and Felipe Del Mestre, they will determine how the side will fair.

Argentina should be feisty at the breakdown, pouncing on those loose balls and on their day–they can create havoc.

Argentinean squad: Gaston Arias, Nicolas Renzo Barbier, Felipe Del Mestre, Rodrigo Etchart, Maximilliano Filizzola Moyano, Luciano Gonzalez, Fernando Luna, Santiago Mare, Marcos Moroni, Conrado Roura, Franco Sabato.

Germany

Samuel Rainger will be hoping for a good outing in front of home fans. The 2017 DHL Octoberfest 7s has brought some of the best sides in the world, and the German side will learn all they can.

Playing well in the past two seasons for the HSBC Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong. Germany are maturing in their game and with an opportunity like this, it will only be a matter of time.

True, they will be the underdogs in the pool. The presence of former Blitzbokke Vyo Zyangga in their coaching staff, has increased their chances of matching some of their Pool opposition.

German squad: Fabian Heimpel, Bastian Himmer, Tim Lichtenberg, Robin Plumpe, Leon Hess, Samuel Rainger, Jarrod Saul, Daniel Koch, Anjo Buckman, Carlos Soteras-Merz, Jonathon Dawe, Maximilian Calitz, Johannes Schreieck, Joshua Tache

Uganda

The Ugandan side is unpredictable at best. They are still learning the finer details of the modern game, yet anyone watching their enthusiasm will know they can upset any side who takes them lightly.

Philip Wokorach, Michael Okorach, Eric Kasita together with James Odong and Timothy Kisiga are the ones to watch.

Ugandan squad: Ramadin Govule, Eric Kasita, Desire Ayera, Adrian Kasito, James Ijongat, Michael Okorach, Philip Wokorach, Fred Odir, Brian Kikawa, Pius Ogena, Timothy Kisiga, James Odong.

Pool C – Fiji, Australia, Chile, Ireland

Fiji Baabaas

The Fijians have named a young side, coached by Saiyasi Fuli. Most of these Baabaas players were in the extended squads from last season. Some who featured in the World series, like Amenoni Nasilasila, will be the most experienced and offer the most. And even if they are not the ‘A’ team, any player representing their nation, are a tough opponent.

Fiji have named two sprinters who will be making their debuts. Namely, Banuve Tabakaucoro, the ‘sprint king of the Pacific’ will debut in Munich. He, along with the middle distance sprinter Batinisavu Uluiyata, will each hope that all the training pays of on the field.

Rover Samu Bale will be a vital leader in the backline, with Paula Dranisinikula and Josua Koroinabuli laying the foundation in the forwards.

“It is good to be able to send a Fiji squad to such a competitive tournament,” Fiji head coach Gareth Baber told the fijisun.com.

Fiji Babas squad: Paula Dranisinikula, Josua Kurinabili, Amenoni Nasilasila, Samu Bale, Uluiyata Batinisavu, Anare Tevita, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Inia Rokomatu, Banuve Tabakaucoro, Jone Koronisagana, Alosio Naduva, Eroni Vucago.

Australia

The Aussies have named a formidable side, full of experience to certainly be a feature in the 2017 Munich tournament. James Stannard will lead this young energetic side, that includes four debutants. Ben O’Donnell, Maurice Longbottom together with Matt Hood and Jarel Skelton will be featuring for the Thunderbolts, for the first time.

Lachlan Anderson will be instrumental, with big Tim Anstee and John Porch both threats. Tom Lucas and Simon Kennewell will be providers, and together they will test the young Fiji Baabaas side.

Aussie squad: Jeral Skelton, Simon Kennewell, Ben O’Donnell, Maurice Longbottom, James Stannard, John Porch, Matthew Hood, Boyd Killingworth, Tom Lucas, Brandon Quinn, Lachlan Anderson.

Ireland

The Irish are rebuilding their sevens game. This is another step heading into the Elche Sevens and Silicon Valley Sevens for this side. They are aggressive group of young lads, and can cause upsets if not checked.

Fiji and Australia should be weary of this unknown Irish outfit.

Irish squad: Will Connors, Shane Daly, Billy Dardis, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan, Adam Leavy, Hugo Lennox, Alex McHenry, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, John O’Donnell, Marc Roche.

Chile

Chile played well when they featured in two HSBC Sevens Series tournaments last season. They even tested the South Africans resolve in the North American leg. They are strong on contact, and can be really stubborn opponents.

Chilean squad: Javier Alarcon, Benjamin de Vidtz, Rodrigo Fernandez, Joaquin Huici, Juan Pablo Larenas, Cristobal Mainguyague, Martin Raddatz, Ignacio Silva, Marcelo Torrealba, Francisco Urroz, Pedro Pablo Verschae, Martin Versache.

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2017 DHL Oktoberfest 7s

Who Will Send Out the First Message of the 2017/18 Sevens Season?

Whoever wins will be the first side to send a clear message to the rest of the sevens world; that they are ready. For the top sides, it is the busiest season ever. And saying that, only the strong will survive.

Here and now though, the focus must be on the Munich event–especially with all the external distractions.

The reality is, that an Fijian side can win, they have a young side that can ‘turn up the heat’ if they work as a unit. So can the SARU Academy side. On the other hand, Australia, England, France and Argentina have the experience to go far.

What we know for sure though, is that the Oktoberfest won’t be the same again. Rugby Sevens will steal the limelight this weekend in Munich. From the pitch to the pubs and beer halls, fans will soon realize,

“Get ready for some mouth-watering rugby Germany!”

 

 *Note: sides not listed had not declared their starting squads for the 2017 DHL Oktoberfest 7s

 

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