Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
No, not the Holiday season. Oh well, I guess that too.
But the real excitement is over the imminent kickoff of the 12th IRB Sevens World Series.
Once again, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens kicks off the eight-event World Series, which also visits South Africa, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland, climaxing at Murrayfield on May 28-29, 2011.
The pools and match schedule have been announced for the first event of the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, on December 3-4, 2010 in Dubai.
Reigning World Series champions Samoa kick off their defense at Dubai’s purpose-built complex ‘The Sevens’ in Pool A with opening matches on day one against Kenya, last year’s Dubai Bowl winners Wales and the hosts, Arabian Gulf.
Defending Dubai champions New Zealand will travel as favorites, having recently scooped a fourth successive Commonwealth Games gold medal. Gordon Tietjens again coaches the New Zealanders, who face Pool B matches against Argentina, USA and Zimbabwe.
As the third-placed team in last year’s World Series standings, Australia top Pool C and face South Africa, whom they beat in the recent Commonwealth Games semi finals in Delhi and also in the 2009 Dubai Plate final. The Wallaby and Springbok Sevens outfits also face Scotland and the 2009 Dubai Shield winners, Russia.
Fiji top Pool D and face a tough trio of matches against European sides, firstly Portugal in the opening match of the tournament and then unpredictable France and crowd favourites England.
“The unique, desert atmosphere of Dubai is a superb venue to kick off the World Series and last year’s event was another fantastic advertisement for Sevens,” said the IRB’s Series Tournament Director, Beth Coalter.
“We expect even better this year and also look forward to kicking off the World Series’ new title sponsorship with HSBC in the best possible style.”
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset added, “Our new partnership with HSBC heralds an exciting era for Rugby Sevens. As we all look and work towards the Olympic Games in Rio in just six years time, this is another glowing endorsement of how far Sevens has come.
“We fully expect this, the 12th edition of the World Series, to be the biggest and the best ever.”
The USA received a favorable draw for Dubai. While being in a pool with New Zealand is never a walk in the park, the USA’s other two opponents in Dubai are beatable. The USA has given Argentina fits over the last two seasons. Zimbabwe has the ability to compete, but should be a win for the USA.
The USA’s battle will come in how well prepared they are for the series. They are notoriously slow starters on the IRB circuit, going a combined 3-13 in Dubai over the past three seasons and collecting only one win during pool play.
As of press, it is still unclear as to whether the USA 7’s team will be playing in Singapore as a warm-up for the IRB season. A shortage of funding has casted doubt as to whether the team will be able to participate in the tournament which serves as an important run-through for many national 7’s teams prior to the IRB Series.
Getting off to a good start on the series is vital if the USA is going to challenge to break into the Top 8 in the standings. The squad is coming off their best IRB season to-date as they finished 10th and posted their best ever winning percentage and collected their most IRB points in a season.
Pools for Dubai