The Rugby 7s season concludes with the World Cup to be played in San Francisco this Saturday. Unlike the Rugby 7s series with group matches, the World Cup will be a knockout tournament from the start. So with plenty to play for, we’ll look at the top teams in contention for the Trophy.
Looking at the history of the Rugby Sevens World Cup, New Zealand and Fiji have been the two strongest nations so far. New Zealand is the current champions from back in 2013 as they defeated England 33-0. They’ve won 2 out of 6 World Cups since 1993. Fiji has also won twice, in 2005 and 1997.
Speaking of Fiji, they will head to the San Francisco as the favourite team to take out the Trophy. They were dominant throughout the Rugby 7s series last season and they should be tough to beat again. While they had won four straight series from Vancouver to London, they were overcome by South Africa in the standings by just 2 points! However, the likes of Amenoni Nasilasila will be keen to make amends in the USA.
So the South African’s will take momentum into this World Cup. They won in Paris, which was the last series of the Rugby 7s tournament to seal a second straight season atop the standings. However, their squad will be weakened by a few injuries which is concerning. Seabelo Senatla, Cecil Afrika and Kyle Brown will all miss the tournament. Senatla is arguably the toughest blow as he currently holds the record for most tries scored by a South African in Rugby 7s.
On home soil, the USA will be a team to watch in this World Cup. As they showed in the Rugby 7s series this season, their best performance came in Las Vegas as they took the Gold medal with a comfortable win over Argentina. So while their last few series results haven’t been great, they seem to step up to the occasion when they play at home. Watch out for Carlin Isles after he top scored in Rugby 7s this season with 49 tries.
New Zealand were comfortable third finishers in Rugby 7s this season and as mentioned, they do have a good record at this World Cup. They also finished third in the last series, which was played in Paris. So they’ll likely be one of the sides to make the semi-finals and offer a bit of value for punters.
In the outsiders but still a chance to win market is England and Australia. England finished off the Rugby 7s season with a few good performances in Singapore (3rd) and Paris (2nd). So they’re coming into this tournament with decent enough form to worry the top sides. They also made the final in the last World Cup.
Australia is a hard team to read as they’re fairly inconsistent. They were poor in Paris last time out but almost won the series in Singapore a few months ago, going down to Fiji. Despite that performance, the series in Paris showed they’re probably not up to the task of taking down the favourite sides in this World Cup.
I don’t mind the value for the USA on their home turf. However, a likely quarter-final matchup against England won’t be an easy task considering their form coming into this World Cup. So in the end, it’s hard to back against the flying Fijians. Despite not winning the season, they finished with the Gold medal on 5 of 10 occasions. Compared to South Africa’s 2 from 10. Fiji is a hard team to stop when they’re on a roll and I see them taking this World Cup out. They have an easy first matchup likely Argentina. Then they will face either Australia or New Zealand, which I’m confident they’ll win to reach the final and hopefully continue their winning ways.
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