PREVIEW | New Zealand Sevens 2018
After a Golden weekend for the Australian women’s and men’s teams in Sydney, the 16 male teams are back in action this weekend with the fourth leg of the World Sevens Series, at New Zealand’s North Island in the city of Hamilton.
Following years of decreasing ticket sales for the New Zealand leg of the World Sevens Series, the organisers went for a radical change and swapped locations, moving from Wellington’s Westpac Stadium to the slightly smaller Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Current figures indicate that the move pays off nicely for New Zealand’s 7s community. The two-day tournament is fully sold-out and Hamilton is overly excited to host this fantastic event. With the home team sitting just behind table leaders South Africa, the All Blacks Sevens could climb to the top and make it the perfect weekend.
WHERE AND WHEN?
The New Zealand Sevens takes place at the Waikato Stadium (Capacity 25,800) on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of February.
The matches kick-off Saturday 11:00 local time (22:00 UK time) and Sunday at 11:00 local time (22:00 UK time).
For a full fixture list click here.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
WHO’S THE FAVOURITE?
The Aussies have been phenomenal at their home tournament in Sydney a week ago. After a rather poor start in Dubai and Cape Town, Andy Friend’s team bounced back in style with a crashing 29-0 win over South Africa in the final.
Sitting now in the third position, the boys in Gold and Green should gain a lot of momentum from the Sydney weekend. Especially in the attack, they are exceptionally strong. With 499 points and 79 tries, no other team has scored so often this season.
On the way to the final, Australia beat their old rivals New Zealand in the Cup Quarter-Finals. The Kiwis finished the weekend in 5th position, probably not the result they hoped for after the convinving tournament win in Cape Town towards the end of last year. However, New Zealand is a lot stronger this season and the prospect of claiming the top spot in the table will be inspirational.
There is a strong likelihood that New Zealand will face the Blitzboks at some point on Sunday. South Africa remains a consistent threat and with a tournament win, a third place and a runner-up performance this season, they’ve shown that they are capable to beat everyone.
ONE TO WATCH
Argentina is playing a very solid season so far and are just behind Australia in the table. In Cape Town, they even made it to the final but lost to a magnificent All Blacks Sevens team.
One of the reasons for Argentinas strong performance is Franco Sabato. The 28-year old has already scored 60 points this season, six tries last weekend, and brings plenty of experience to the party. He has 186 matches under his belt. World Rugby Sevens says he is “a frightening prospect for any defence, Franco Sabato has electrifying pace. His fast feet open up chances from all over the park.”
Saturday 3rd February
(All times are local times - GMT plus 13 hours)
Kenya v Samoa - 11.00
USA v Canada - 11.22
England v Russia - 11.44
South Africa v Papua New Guinea - 12.06
Fiji v Wales - 12.36
Australia v Spain - 12.58
New Zealand France - 13.20
Argentina v Scotland - 13.42
Kenya v Canada - 14.26
USA v Samoa - 14.48
England v Papua New Guinea - 15.10
South Africa v Russia - 15.32
Fiji v Spain - 16.02
Australia v Wales - 16.24
New Zealand v Scotland - 16.46
Argentina v France - 17.08
Samoa v Canada - 18.00
USA v Kenya - 18.22
Russia v Papua New Guinea - 18.44
South Africa v England - 19.06
Wales v Spain - 19.28
Australia v Fiji - 19.50
France v Scotland - 20.12
Argentina v New Zealand - 20.34