All pictures: World Rugby
The first World Sevens Series tournament of the year 2018 is done and dusted and it was a very golden affair, with the Australian women's and men's team winning big at home. It was a memorable weekend, with plenty of talking points - Here are four of them.
The Australian Women’s team is unstoppable
If there were any doubts about the quality of the Australian Women’s team, after a disappointing season 2016/2017, they should be all gone since their phenomenal and record-breaking performance in Sydney last weekend.
Six games, six wins, and 35 tries without conceding a single point sums up how strong the team is, a record which no other team has ever achieved before. Even their closest rivals New Zealand couldn’t score a try when the two met in the final last Sunday.
Head coach Tim Walsh together and his backroom staff have developed an exceptionally strong squad which are the hot favourites to win the series, after only two tournaments played. Top performers such as Charlotte Caslick, Emma Tonegato and the second highest scorer in the series Emma Sykes are forming this brilliant group.
It will be interesting to witness the development of this team especially after the departure of coach Walsh towards the end of the season. If he manages to pass the team over in the current state, his successor will enjoy the role.
South Africa is more vulnerable this season
Yes, the Blitzbokke are still going strong and are topping the table. But there are indications that Neil Powell’s team might not dominate the series in the same fashion as last year. Even though they made it to the final last Sunday and won the title in Dubai, the Australians, demonstrated that South Africa are vulnerable and with a solid defense and ruthless attacking strategy beatable.
Losing the final 29-0 must be a disappointing experience for this fine Boks’ squad and a motivation for the teams sitting behind South Africa in the table. Especially New Zealand, only four points behind South Africa are closing in. They only finished 5th in Sydney, but next weekend the All Blacks Sevens team is coming home, and the Hamilton leg offers a golden opportunity to claim the top spot in the table.
The Australian men’s team, currently third in the table, played a phenomenal pre-season and with the win in Sydney, they should be boosted with confidence. The Australians have some exceptional talents such as speedster Maurice Longbottom and Ben O’ Donnell who already scored 15 tries this season. Mixed with the more experienced players such as James Stannard and captain Lewis Holland the Golden boys are a real force.
The Sydney Sevens date needs a rethink
This was a big talking point in the Australian media following an eventful weekend which included the Australia day, the Australian Open finals and the final one-day test between England and the Aussies.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper analysed that the tournament has caused Australia Rugby a whopping $700k damage, as it attracted 54,875 people across the weekend, down more than 20 percent on last year's crowd of 75,000. At an average cost of $35 a ticket, that means a $700,000 shortfall in gate revenue for Rugby Australia.
The reason for the drop-in ticket sale was down to a rare change in dates, as the organisers requested to run the first-ever fully integrated men’s and women’s tournament. In theory a great idea and the right step, however, it must go hand in hand with the many other attractive events of such a weekend.
The Avo-Man won the show
It’s no secret that 7s events are always a melting pot for the party animals and fancy-dress lovers. But there has been hardly an occasion where one costume attracted such a huge viral wave. Nearly every social media channel (we couldn’t resist either) posted a pic of this wonderfully simple and funny costume of the so-called “Avo-Man”.
It’s fair to say, he nailed it!