All the leading men’s teams will have their attention focused this week. The Las Vegas and Vancouver legs are next up on the World Rugby 7s Series. And Last Word on Rugby will be following the action closely, with the top of the table in finely balanced after four rounds.
Beginning with the standings, in the men’s competition it has been a varied list of results. Four tournaments in; four different winners.
Closely looking at the @WorldRugby7s standings, the men's is #wideopen after four separate teams have won the 1st four tournaments. Although the #Blitzboks have a small gap, this week at the #LasVegas7s it could all change pic.twitter.com/Rm66FuE4KS
— scott hornell (@scotthornell73) February 27, 2018
The South African men have seemed to be the most consistent side. Not the exact mirror of the ‘near perfect’ team that fans saw in 2017, they show some glimpses, yet….. at the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs, sadly for their fans they are missing some artillery.
Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla have chosen Super Rugby over the HSBC Sevens Series. How important that fact will be, is only going to be seen after this weekend.
Teams Chasing Las Vegas 7s title
You always have favourites. There are the pundits pre-tournament picks, and then there are the ‘outsiders chance’. And in Vegas, the odds count.
Not in terms of betting, but in the rugby parlance of ‘leave nothing out on the field’. So expect teams to not hold anything back. At the mid-stage of the year, sides like Samoa, France, Scotland and Canada, must put down their stakes. Bet high, and aim the reap the benefits and leapfrog others up the standings.
But in an overview of the year, how can any of the teams within the Commonwealth, afford [physically] to do this? Two legs of the World Rugby 7s series, and then the Gold Coast Games in April–that is a heavy workload. So, in terms of player workload and welfare, the sides outside of those teams heading to Australia, might be the teams chasing hardest over the next fortnight.
And the final factor; different to the majority of playing conditions, are the artificial surfaces used in the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs. Synthetic grass, be it up to the highest of modern standards, is still foreign to most players. So teams who can keep the ball alive, not risk players sliding wildly–and getting fierce grass burns–might survive the next two weeks best.
USA Rugby preparing for RWC7s, San Francisco
At the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC Sevens Series, the event has many connotations. Those are both on the competition front. They are also focused on the organisations who are running the three day weekend.
USA Rugby have operated many successful Vegas tournaments, but the emphasis now is on ‘perfecting the ops’. Logistics, operating systems, right down to ticketing and merchandising, it will all be magnified upon because of this upcoming date in July. On that occasion, the whole world will be watching – it is the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.
With the #HSBC7s returning to Las Vegas next Friday, we look ahead to Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, this coming July!
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 24, 2018
So as the preparations for the RWC7s loom closer, this weekend is the perfect environment to test, and problem-solve, before the actual World Rugby tournament arrives. And the governing body will also be overseeing the weekends proceedings.
World Rugby countdown to 7s World Cup
Many checks will be done, with feedback and evaluations asked for by WR. Teams and their management will be questioned, on how the positives and the negatives of operations at Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada, can be transferred to the mammoth AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Just over four months is ample time to drilldown on issues. The marketing is already at full pace, engaging with North American sports fans.
Yet both the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs are going to provide the perfect setting to ‘trouble shoot’ the demands of a large scale sevens rugby tournament. Each will be popular, with the Canadian leg in it’s third year running at BC Place.
As a subsequence, the finely tuned machine which is the Sevens Series can benefit teams most, by operating without glitch.
And the same can be said of the teams. Operate at maximum efficiency, and the surface or the opposition might not impede their expectations over the next 10 days.
The HSBC Las Vegas Sevens kicks off on March 2-4, at Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas.
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