This week sees the start of the Sevens Rugby World Cup and our sevens lovers at The Rugby Blog HQ are visibly trembling with excitement.
To those of you not already hooked on this shortened version of the game it is everything you love about 15’s: the pace, the power, the tries and more. It is a brutal test of fitness, skill and tactics and is where you will find the next generation of stars in the world game.
If you want to watch some of the most exciting rugby on the planet this weekend, tune yourself into www.ur7s.com for live feeds of the Rugby Sevens World Cup from Dubai starting tomorrow.
This season has seen one of the most closely contested world sevens series for a long time. Both NZ and Fiji have been beaten by so-called “minnows” of the sevens game; South Africa’s early dominance has been broken by the likes of England and Argentina and a genuine new world sevens force is emerging in the powerful USA team.
The form guide would suggest that England and Argentina are the teams to beat after their closely fought final in San Diego a fortnight ago but every nation will be amassing their strongest possible squad so any one from the top 8 teams has a realistic chance of winning.
With all the home nations taking part it is a valuable competition to see some stars of the future line-up alongside experienced sevens protagonists.
The real difficulty in the World Cup is maintaining consistency throughout the extended pool stage and into the knockouts. This format rewards strength in depth, tactical coaching and wise heads on the pitch.
In that regard there are a few stand-out players worth keeping an eye out for:
Ben Gollings (Eng): One of the most important aspects of England coach Ben Ryan’s tenure has been to reawaken Ben Gollings’ hunger for the seven a side game. This season he has been consistently sharp, able to create tries for others or score them himself from anywhere on the pitch as well as marshal the defence.
Chris Wyles (USA): After an impressive showing in the 15-a-side world cup, this Saracens player has been setting tournaments alight with scintillating breaks against all the top opposition. USA will be out to cause a few upsets and Wyles will be at the heart of their efforts.
Victor Vito (NZ): Drafted in especially for the world cup, Vito was one of the star players of the 2007/2008 season and will add plenty of pace to an already competitive Kiwi squad.
Santiago Gomez Cora (Arg): Fresh from their stunning victory in San Diego, the Argentinians will be brimming with confidence. Where other nations have brought in star players to bolster their squads, Argentina will be drawing on the experience of the world sevens series all-time record try scorer to guide them into the latter stages.
Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji): Fiji’s intent to recapture the crown they have won twice before is signalled by the arrival of their big guns. Not only do they have the Montauban try-machine in their midst but other European club pros Satala, Nalaga and Naevo are on hand to terrorise defences. They must start as favourites for the title.
This tournament will be epic so make sure you are watching.