Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America
The pools have been announced for the Adelaide, Australia stop on the HSBC World Series. Set to take place on April 2-3, 2011, Adelaide is the 6th tournament of eight on the annual series run by the International Rugby Board.
Pool A is headlined by World Series Co-leaders New Zealand followed by the resurgent Kenya, Wales, and Cook Islands. All of the pools are tough, but this one may be the toughest in Australia. The Kenya/Wales matchup will be the one to watch, but don’t rule out an upset by the Cook Islands.
England heads up Pool B. Also tied for 1st on the World Series, England has played superbly this season. They are joined by Argentina, Scotland, and Papua New Guinea.
Fiji leads Pool C and will have to wade through hosts, Australia, the USA, and Tonga if they want to continue to push the leaders in the standings.
The final pool, Pool D, is made up of polar opposite teams. There are the contenders… USA 7’s Champs South Africa and perennial contender Samoa. Then there are the other two teams… France and Japan. Pools don’t come any easier to predict than this one.
For Team USA, this draw isn’t unexpected. Tournament draws are based on how a team finishes at prior tournaments and this is the type of draw that Shield finals receive. So, the USA is currently stuck into pools that are going to be very tough on them.
Fiji has become hit or miss for Team USA. Either the USA gives them a decent game or get blown out of the water. Without a legitimate upset to the record this season, Team USA desperately needs to take down one of the top teams to get some confidence.
Australia and the USA haven’t met this season, so facing them on home soil should be difficult to say the least. Even the #4 seed in the pool is not going to be an easy task for the USA. Tonga reached the Bowl finals in Wellington… a place the USA has yet to be this season. Expect Tonga to throw everything they have at the USA.
This is a very tough draw for Team USA and going winless in pool play is not out of the questions given the way the team has played this season and the number of injury concerns they have.
While there are concerns, there is a bit of excitement in that it is very likely that some new players well get their opportunity to break into the lineup and show their stuff on the World Series. How they fare on the big stage is another thing entirely.
Last year’s Adelaide 7’s seems so far off now. At the tournament, the USA reached their first ever Cup Championship and appeared to usher in a new era for the squad. Rebounding from that success has proved a difficult taska and the team will need some magic in Australia if they are to repeat.
Highlights from the 2010 Adelaide 7’s