The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series delivered scintillating action in Las Vegas last weekend with a victory for USA on home soil.
The win puts the Eagles top of the table going into the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver, hosted at the BC Stadium on 9-10 March.
USA lead the series with 98 points, closely followed by Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 champions New Zealand on 93 and Olympic gold medallists Fiji in third with 84 points.
The competition kicks off at 09:08 local time (GMT-8) on Saturday when England, currently placed fourth in the series, take on Scotland before the other Pool D match sees Argentina face Japan.
Pool C kicks off with Australia v Spain followed by New Zealand v France.
In Pool B, Fiji open against Kenya and Las Vegas runners-up Samoa face hosts Canada.
South Africa face invitational side Chile in the opening Pool A match, followed by series leaders USA v Wales.
WHERE AND WHEN?
The Canada Sevens take place at the BC Place Stadium (Capacity 54,500) in Vancouver, Saturday 09th and Sunday 10th of March. The matches kick-off on Saturday at 09:30 local time (GMT -8) and Sunday 09:30 local time. The final is scheduled for 18:19 local time on Sunday
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
WHO’S THE FAVOURITE?
It took, the US team five attempts, and a painful spell of four successive Cup final defeats, to finally lift the first trophy this season. In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Mike Friday’s side defended their title in Las Vegas to secure the lead in the table, now sitting five points ahead of their closest rivals New Zealand.
Although the USA, have had a strong season so far, winning the last leg, could give the team another huge confidence boosts, which they certainly will need as they miss some key players in Vancouver, such as Baker and Barrett.
Despite their defeat at the USA Sevens in the Cup semi-final by the hosts, no one really doubts that New Zealand has all assets to bounce back this weekend to close the gap to the top once again.
Much has been written about the Kiwis and Eagles as they dominated this season, but last weekend has shown the beauty of 7s, as “dark horses” Samoa and Argentina, appeared in the mix for the Cup win, and almost spoiled the party.
Let’s hope we will see a few more of such surprises in Canada. For all the neutral supporters of the HSBC World Sevens Series, it would be a welcoming breath of fresh air.
ONE TO WATCH | Jeral Skelton
19-year-old Jeral Skelton, joined the Australian 7s almost a year ago and has since then been an impressive addition to Tim Walsh’s side. The 6ft 2in tall speedster is one of Australia’s most promising 7s talents. Hailing from Brothers Rugby club in Brisbane, Skelton continues to rise through Rugby’s Sevens ranks and will be looking to add to the strong start to his career that he is building.
POOL A: USA, SOUTH AFRICA, CHILE, WALES
POOL B: SAMOA, FIJI, KENYA, CANADA
POOL C: NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, SPAIN, FRANCE
POOL D: ARGENTINA, ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, JAPAN
DAY ONE SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE LOCAL TIMES, GMT -8)
ENGLAND v SCOTLAND 09:08
ARGENTINA v JAPAN 09:30
AUSTRALIA v SPAIN 09:52
NEW ZEALAND v FRANCE 10:14
FIJI v KENYA 10:39
SAMOA v CANADA 11:01
SOUTH AFRICA v CHILE 11:23
USA v WALES 11:45
ENGLAND v JAPAN 12:37
ARGENTINA v SCOTLAND 12:59
AUSTRALIA v FRANCE 13:21
NEW ZEALAND v SPAIN 13:43
FIJI v CANADA 14:08
SAMOA v KENYA 14:30
SOUTH AFRICA v WALES 14:52
USA v CHILE 15:14
SCOTLAND v JAPAN 16:09
ARGENTINA v ENGLAND 16:31
SPAIN v FRANCE 16:53
NEW ZEALAND v AUSTRALIA 17:15
KENYA v CANADA 17:40
SAMOA v FIJI 18:02
CHILE v WALES 18:24
USA v SOUTH AFRICA 18:46