The World Sevens Series returns this weekend with the first stop of a massively exciting year for the game, which includes the Commonwealth Games as well as the 7s World Cup in San Fransisco. With temperatures around 30 degrees, the teams will be challenged to compete in hot and humid conditions at the Sydney 7s. For the first time ever, the women’s competition will run alongside the men’s one, on all three days.
WHERE AND WHEN?
The Sydney Sevens takes place at the Allianz Stadium (Capacity 45,500) on Friday 26th, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of January.
The matches kick-off Friday at 18:00 local time (07:00 UK time), Saturday 14:41 local time (03:41 UK time) and Sunday at 10:00 local time (23:00 UK time).
For a full fixture list click here.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
In the UK Sky Sports will cover the tournament on all days. For a full TV guide click here, for any other country check out this handy guide.
WHO’S THE FAVOURITE?
The current champions South Africa started the new series in a commonly successful style with a win at the first stop in Dubai, last year. However, a week later the Blitzbokke only finished third at their home tournament in Cape Town.
New Zealand, a team which performed below their high standards last year, seem to be in a lot stronger form this season. Coach Clark Laidlaw, the successor of the magnificent Gordon Tietjens, guided the men in black, back onto winning paths and an impressive tournament win in South Africa.
Olympic Champions Fiji in the third position showed a solid performance at the first two tournaments and will among the bookies favourite for a top three finish this weekend.
Hosts Australia has been in outstanding form prior to the start of the series but only made it to the Challenge Trophy final in South Africa. In addition, coach Andy Friend has to plan without his long-serving and inspirational captain Ed Jenkins, who was forced to retire from the game last week. However, a sea of Aussie supporters should back the team with plenty of confidence and the prospect of a potentially successful women’s and men’s team in Gold and Green on the podium on Sunday night must be a huge motivation.
ONE TO WATCH
New Zealand’s Joe Ravouvou is in outstanding form. The 104kg winger was suspended for three games, following a high tackle in the final of the Dubai Sevens. However, he bounced back impressively with an HSBC Player of the Final performance in Cape Town.
The 26-year-old is a daunting player to face on the sevens circuit. A huge presence and buckets of pace, he can finish from almost anywhere on the pitch.