2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens: will the ‘Underdogs’ reign again?

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2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens: Will the 'Underdogs' reign again?
SINGAPORE - APRIL 16: The Canadian team celebrates winning the Cup Final of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens as part of the World Rugby HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 at the National Stadium on 16 April 2017 in Singapore. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens will be held this weekend April 28-29, at the impressive Singapore National Stadium. When Day Two arrives, the best team will raise the trophy and take leg eight of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

16 teams will compete at Kailung, with Japan the invitational side. However, the big question for all rugby sevens fans is, will the underdogs reign again?

Canada is the defending champion team. They, along Kenya (winners in 2016) will have fond memories. And history is behind them – since, taking over from the Japan Sevens in 2016, this tourney has been won by two underdogs sides. This event is usually played immediately after the Hong Kong Sevens which is a reason why the big teams always seem to struggle.

2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens: The LOWDOWN

In 2018, a three week break for non-Commonwealth sides who did not travel to the Gold Coast, might very well give them the edge. Strategy may play it’s part this year – that saw most of the Commonwealth sides fielding a second-string side at Hong Kong… except for Fiji and Kenya.

So some sides will be favoured, for their ‘player management’. The short break will test if the two sides can step-up yet again. The women’s teams found it difficult, with the New Zealand women nearly ‘out on their feet’ by the time they reached the final.

By comparison, the French women had a small advantage. Here in Singapore, the French and US teams could well have that stamina, the others might be missing after the heavy Commonwealth workload.

But the only way to judge that, is by playing. And the fans will be out in force, to cheer on all the sides across the two days.

2018 teams draw:

  • Pool A – Fiji, Spain, Russia, Japan
  • Pool B – Kenya, England, USA, France
  • Pool C – South Africa, Argentina, Canada, Samoa
  • Pool D – New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Scotland

South Africa still leads the series points with 126 points. Fiji only just trail, by a mere three points. Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist New Zealand is in third spot, with 107  pts. Argentina sit in fourth, Australia is in fifth – only a point less, on 89.

Pool A – Fiji

Fiji has recalled Ice Katonibau with rookies Teri Tamani and Keponi Paul. With three wins in the bag this season, the Jerry Tuwai led side will want to continue their streak. click here for full squad

Russia

Two wingers who featured prominently for Russia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup have returned to bolster their chances. Facing demotion next season as a core team they have recalled Dennis Simplevich and Vladimir Ostronshko. click here for full squad

Spain

Finishing in the top eight in Hong Kong was a morale booster for Pablo Feijoo’s men. They need more tis weekend with Plo Pla on song. Consistency and urgency will determine their progress. click here for full squad

 

Japan

Katsayuki Sakai and Dai Ozawa will lead this young Sakura brigade with Tevita Tupou the bolster. Good time to get the rookies acquainted with the pressure of World Series rugby sevens. click here for full squad

Pool B – United States

With Folau Niua out with injury it gives Kvon Williams time to shine. Danny Barett and Perry Baker will have to lead the fight. A second title of the season could be won with Ben Pickelman leading the charge. click here for full squad

Kenya

Collins Injera has been in great form lately. With the help of Oscar Ouma together with Willy Ambaka and Andrew Amonde they can win again here.

Two consecutive finals appearance have really boosted moral moreover at home. Fiji has stopped them twice hopefully they can get over their Pacific brothers this weekend. click here for full squad

 

France

Pierre Gilles Lakafia will be the one to watch for thr Froggies. They need to work around him with Tavite Veredamu missing. Plenty firepower with Alexandre Lagarde back but they need consistency. click here for full squad

England

The English didn’t do well in Hong Kong but finished third at the Commonwealth Games. Charlton Kerr comes into the squad for Tom Bowen. Mike Ellery and Alex Davis continue to shine after rejoining the side. With their home tourney in May, its about time they rise up. click here for full squad

Pool C – South Africa

Finishing a disappointing fourth in Gold Coast will motivate this squad to stay on top of the Series table. A mixture of youth and experience could just be the right ingredient. click here for full squad

Argentina

It has been a good season for the Los Pumas sevens but they need aa win. With Thomas Oszadzuk, Gaston Revol and Bautista Ezacurra out, it will be tough. However, Lautaro Balan Velez can lead the side to an upset victory this weekend. click here for full squad

Canada

With the news of John Moonlight’s retirement coming through, the defending champs will be out to retain title. Nathan Hirayama will lead the side who needs a win to reignite their season. click here for full squad

Samoa

They desperately need a victory to reignite the passion for the sport back home. Consistency and execution is the key with players like David Afamasaga leading the charge. click here for full squad

Pool D – New Zealand

With three Fijians and Kurt Baker together with Etene Nanai Seturo and Tim Mikkelson, the Kiwis will be strong.

Fresh from the victory at the Gold Coast, they will miss Regan Ware and Vilimoni Koroi. However, their young brigade will punch above their weight.

Scotland

The Scottish have brought in the big boys and they will be contenders. They usually shine at the three tournaments of the season. They will build from here under James Fleming, Joe Nayacavou and Jamie Farndale.

Rookie Max Macfarland will be the one to watch with Glenn Bryce. Consistency and killing off games will get them to the last eight.

Australia

New Aussie head coach Tim Walsh has named three rookies to join the squad at the 2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens. Lachlan Miller, Nick Price and hardworking Jeral Skelton will boost the Aussies campaign.

Walsh was successful with the women’s side but the Men’s series will test his credentials. Jesse Parahi leads the side with, Skelton the man to watch.

Wales

The two Luke’s need to step up to reignite their season. Lyuke Treharne, Luke Morgan and Morgan Williams will need to step up with Ben Roach. Cal Devine will be the one to watch. click here for full squad

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2018 HSBC Singapore Sevens – the Verdict

The action kicks off on Saturday. The question is ‘will the underdogs reign again?’ Canada or Kenya, each has fond memories.

Possibly….the Fijians might continue their winning streak, although the Kiwi men hope to bring their Commonwealth Games form (injuries aside).

What’s true is, this weekend is truly open for the taking in Singapore. Enjoy our coverage on Last Word on Rugby.

 

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