Men’s teams all aim for maximum points at 2018 London Sevens

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Men's teams all aim for maximum points at 2018 London Sevens
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Bastien Berenguel of France attempts to catch a loose ball in the game between France and Wales during the HSBC London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 21, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for World Rugby)

Two objectives will play a part at the 2018 London Sevens tournament, being held at Twickenham this weekend. The ninth leg of the 2017/18 HSBC Sevens Series, it is one step before the title can be decided – so a key point for many sides.

They will firstly want to ‘aim for Maximum points’ of course. Collect the tally of series points in London, to especially boost that sides position on the below ladder. But every side is also still looking ahead, to the Rugby World Cup Sevens to be held in San Francisco.

So it is a ‘here and now’ focus, before the end goal can be clearly targeted. Any side who can finish Day Two of the 2018 London Sevens by competing in, and hopefully winning the Cup final, will be rewarded for their efforts.

Men’s teams all aim for maximum points at 2018 London Sevens

In looking at the points tally, followers will be aware there is a fight for First. And then, there is a challenge to finish in third. Two groups, with two separate outcomes. Either the South African team can overcome the four point difference to Fiji – to deny the sequence of tournament wins recently.

That will be a big enough task. But, the Blitzbok will also want Fiji to not reach the final, to maximize their points take. To get the best return. And that is the thinking of all four sides who are in the running. Be it Fiji, New Zealand (3rd place) or Australia (4th).

Though, apart from the top teams, there is always the ability of any of the core-status teams, to ‘get up for the win’ – see 2017. The challenges are so close, that another side like Scotland, Argentina or England could reach the final match of Day Two at Twickenham – and that is the mentality which each side must bring to this weekends competition.

Yes, the more successful teams who can perform here, can also take confidence in programs that will take them through London, and onto Paris next week – with an eye looking towards the RWC7s campaign in July.

Sevens Series teams ready for Day One pool play

Besides the focus of leading sides today, the objectives in London and ahead to San Francisco, the teams have officially finalized. Knowing this, these are the squads who will run out on Saturday June 2, ready for Pool play.

Pool A – Fiji, New Zealand, Scotland and Argentina

Pool B – Australia, Wales, Spain and Ireland (invitational side)

Pool C – England, Kenya, United States and France

Pool D – South Africa, Samoa, Canada and Russia

And while the rock tune rang out ‘Londons calling’ as the captains assembled several days ago for the traditional tournament photo, the sense is that some key players will possible make the difference this weekend.

In Pool A, the old saying ‘pool of death’ could describe the battle ahead. Who can be the top seed, might well have the best pathway towards a final. Yet, pool play can sometimes do the most damage.

Fiji have added Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova to their ranks, who created havoc for the Baabaas against England last week at this very ground. So, the All Black Sevens must be at their best, if they also want to maximize their result at the 2018 London Sevens.

Still each side cannot ignore Scotland – the 2017 champions, and a fierce competitor at any time. Both Scotland and Argentina will have their own goals. The Scots will have some great support too.

Plus, Argentina have  been in form in 2018, so all three pool games here will be ‘ones to watch’.

Returning players boost Blitzboks/USA chances

Returnee Seabelo Senatla will be the major threat to the dominant Fijians, from a Blitzboke perspective. Having been on Super Rugby duty with the Stormers, it had not seen him selected for higher honours. So the former World Rugby ‘Sevens player of the Year’ will add more bite to the South African team.

And on the other hand, Madison Hughes will add plenty to the attacking play of the United States side. That will please coach Mike Friday to no end, and bring more playmaker-control to the US team. Boosting their chances of topping Pool C, and it might help Team USA repeat their previous successes at Twickenham.

Those two players are renowned stars. So the additions of those players is a plus. But for the invitational side Ireland, they must too be respected for their future stars. As ever, Last Word on Rugby sevens contributor Jovilisi Waqa has an insight for talent. He says “keep an out for the invitational side Ireland.

“They will be fighting hard to prove their worth, especially 21 year old James O’Brien.”

Although a team like Ireland cannot focus on maximizing their sevens series points tally – as the invited team – they can prove to their supporters, that they too are a challenge to the star-studded teams. However, all the other sides will also be hoping to ‘aim high’ this weekend.

And as ever, all this weekends action will be mirrored on the LWOR Facebook page, as well as the outcome reported at the conclusion of the 2018 London Sevens tournament. Who will triumph? That is not ours to say – but it will be another thrilling step, along the exciting 2017/18 HSBC Sevens Series path.

“Main photo credit”
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