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Top 5 Profile: Where We Stand

Top 5 Profile: Where We Stand
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s prop Paula Dranisinukula will be one of our key forwards this weekend.Photo: Zimbio
July 19
12:38 2018

Who will  cover the World Cup Sevens for the FIJI SUN

 

This is the Top 5 teams to play in the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 at the AT&T Park in San Francisco, this weekend.

SOUTH AFRICA

Seeded: 1

Coach: Neil Powell

Captain: Philip Snyman

Nickname: Blitzboks

Twitter handle: @Blitzboks

RWC Sevens best result: Runners-up 1997

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 final ranking: 1

Renowned for being robust defensively and extremely physical in the contact area, South African teams have also had more than their fair share of individual brilliance over the years. In Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok and Seabelo Senatla the Blitzboks have provided three of the last seven recipients of the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year and, in 2017, Rosko Specman made the shortlist of three. Still the only team to beat New Zealand in the history of the Commonwealth Games, when they won gold at Glasgow 2014, South Africa will arrive in San Francisco on a high having successfully defended their world series title.

 

FIJI

Seeded: 2

Coach: Gareth Baber

Captain: Seremaia Tuwai

Twitter handle: @FijiRugby

RWC Sevens best result: Champions 1997 and 2005

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 final ranking: 2

To watch Fiji play sevens is a joy to behold. The Olympic champions entertain fans and bewitch opponents in equal measure with a dazzling skill-set that sets them apart from the rest. Rugby sevens is a religion in Fiji with World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Waisale Serevi revered above all others in the Pacific Islands and beyond. Now retired, the little magician inspired Fiji to RWC Sevens glory in Hong Kong in 1997 and 2005. They have also won three bronze medals and have only failed to make the podium once in RWC Sevens history. Fiji won back-to-back world series titles in 2015 and 2016

 

NEW ZEALAND

Seeded: 3

Coach: Clark Laidlaw

Captains: Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson

Nickname: All Blacks Sevens

Twitter handle: @AllBlacks7s

RWC Sevens best result: Champions 2001 and 2013

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 final ranking: 3

New Zealand are still the benchmark team in international sevens 17 years after they were first crowned world champions in 2001. Under the coaching of World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Gordon Tietjens, New Zealand added the RWC Sevens 2013 gold medal to their collection as well as pocketing 12 World Rugby Sevens Series titles and four Commonwealth Games gold medals during his 22 years in charge of the team. There was a changing of the guard following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and his successor Clark Laidlaw is now looking to create a new dynasty of success, blending exciting young talent with experienced heads like co-captains Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson. Winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year wasn’t bad for starters but a third RWC Sevens title would literally mean the world to the men in black.

 

ENGLAND

Seeded: 4

Coach: Simon Amor

Captain: Tom Mitchell

Twitter handle: @EnglandRugby

RWC Sevens best result: Champions 1993

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 final ranking: 5

Twenty-five years on from winning the inaugural tournament in 1993, England will be among the favourites to make the podium again in San Francisco. Since that shock triumph in Edinburgh in 1993 when the likes of RWC 2003 winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson first announced their arrival on the global stage, England have added two more medals to their collection – bronze in Hong Kong in 2005 and silver eight years later in Moscow. Led by captain Tom Mitchell, England have talent and experience throughout the side in the shape of Ollie Lindsay-Hague and veteran James Rodwell despite losing Dan Bibby to injury suffered at the Exeter Sevens earlier this month. Dan Norton, the all-time leading try-scorer in world series history with 299, is still going strong at 30.

 

USA

Seeded: 5

Coach: Mike Friday

Captain: Madison Hughes

Nickname: USA Eagles Sevens

Twitter handle: @USARugby

RWC Sevens best result: Plate quarter-finalist 2001, 2009 and 2013

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 final ranking: 6

Quick-witted and quick-thinking, USA coach Mike Friday remains one of the finest tacticians in the sevens game. Friday joined the Men’s Eagles Sevens after earlier spells in charge of England and Kenya and led them to their inaugural world series Cup title in London in 2015, followed by a first-ever win on home soil earlier this year in Las Vegas. In Perry Baker, the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in 2017, and this season’s top try-scorer Carlin Isles, USA possess two of the game’s most lethal finishers and fastest men on the series, while the vision of captain Madison Hughes and the power of Danny Barrett give the side plenty of guile and go-forward. It would take something extraordinary for the host nation not to improve on their previous best finish of 13th.

 

Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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