2018 Hong Kong Sevens: Fiji chase a fourth-consecutive title

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2018 Hong Kong Sevens: Fiji chase a fourth-consecutive title
HONG KONG - APRIL 09: Fiji players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens final against South Africa at Hong Kong Stadium on April 9, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

It’s the seventh stop on the HSBC Sevens Series and we are at the ‘Mecca of Sevens’ for the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens. It see’s 16 teams all out for glory, but the question is “who can stop them?” as Fiji chases a fourth-consecutive title.

Gathered together, 40 teams in total will compete in this massive three-day tournament, starting on April 6. The tourney also doubles up as an 2018/19 Sevens Series qualifier, with 12 men’s and women’s sides – who started their match schedule today.

In the men’s World series, with the Commonwealth Games next week, most teams like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have sent their ‘A’ sides. However, fan favourites Fiji will be fielding their number one side, to underline their commitment to the traditional home of sevens. They chase a fourth consecutive title in So Kon Po, and will not be off put by their Commonwealth compatriots strategies.

To the fans delight though, non-Commonwealth sides like USA, France, Argentina, Spain and Russia have all sent in their best sides, to topple Fiji. That still makes for a super weekend for the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens.

2018 Hong Kong Sevens: Fiji Chase a fourth-consecutive title

It’s their ‘home away from home’ and Fiji will be out to chase down another title. That would be their 18th title in Hong Kong (and would be an incredible achievement). And expect the Fiji flags to be flying, as well as some of the most passionate fans. With the heat, the humidity and the flavours of Hong Kong–it’s an event all the teams peak for.

United States will be their biggest threat, along with Argentina, Canada, Kenya and France. That is not to say that other sides won’t be boosted, the atmosphere can proved a huge motivating factor.

With the importance on pool play, on qualifying for the Cup knockout stages, every side will kick off from minute one – see the full match schedule here.

Pool A – Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Russia

The big news is that they have been boosted with the return of Semi Kunatani and Isake Katonibau. It shows that every Fijian man wants to be in Hong Kong. However, they wont take any teams lightly. It’s their dress rehearsal for the Commonwealth Games, and with Kunatani and Katonibau in the side, they may well be unstoppable.

The Kiwis have named seven players with Fijian ancestry. That includes Joe Ravouvou, Rocky Khan, Akuila Roko, Salesi Rayasi, Luke Masirewa and Amanaki Nicole. You know that the New Zealand team has always embraced their naturalized Fijians – and they will give their all against Fiji.

Of note; the ‘A side’ will be coached by former NZ 7’s flyer, Roger Randle.

Belgium Tuatagaloa returns to boost Samoa, and so has Vladimir Ostronshko of Russia. It makes for a tough pool which could spring some surprises. If it includes a Fiji loss, the crowd reaction will match the reaction back in the South Seas Islands.

Pool B – Kenya, Australia, Spain, Canada

Kenya and Canada have named their best teams to play in Hong Kong. It is a sign of the respect that the tournament does hold. And in knowing that, they can win the pool considering the ‘weakened’ Aussies.

In saying that, Australia are banking on Con Foley to lead their rookie side. And the match against Spain might well be a superb chance for Los Leones.

Pool C – South Africa, England, Scotland, South Korea

Marius Schoeman will lead a young side, with Zain Davids, Ryan Osthuizen and Selwyn Davids all with recent World Series experience. How will it fare for the World Champions? It could be a great chance – yet again, it might backfire [for the Championship race].

England; with a young side, will be unpredictable. And so will the Scotland side. The Koreans will just cherish the experience, making for one of the more open pools.

Pool D – United States, Argentina, Wales, France

The polar opposite here in Pool D – the toughest challenge. True, the Americans ‘can win in Hong Kong’ if they utilize Perry Baker smartly. However, their soldiers like Ben Pinkelman, Danny Barrett together with Martin Iosefo and Maka Unufe will have to lay the platform. Team USA are on a high, after the Las Vegas leg result.

Facing them, Argentina are another favorite this weekend; the Pumas are so close to making a Final into a tournament win. Along with France and Wales, the opening pool matches are so critical for all four teams.

In all honesty – a tough pool, where anything can happen.

Click here for full HK7’s squads

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Can Fiji reign supreme?

On paper, they can. And the onus is on other teams to beat them. The United States are their biggest threat, with Kenya, Argentina and the Kiwis teams that may reach the cup final.

In regards to the standings, Fiji can overtake South Africa if they win on the points table–but it would mean so much to the men from the Islands. Four wins in a row would come close to equalling the feats of New Zealand and the great Fiji teams of years gone by.

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