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Another round of back-to-back tournaments is done and dusted. The Sydney Sevens, with its double-header has been no disapointment in terms of world-class 7s. There is a lot to take away from the past three days. Here are five lessons we learned, plus the best tries and outstanding players.
The Olympic Battle is on!
The race for a precious top-four finish, which guarantees the direct Olympic qualification, will be extremely tight and exciting. After 4/10 tournaments played, it looks like the top three spots are somehow played out between New Zealand, Fiji and the USA. England and South Africa, however, are among the top contenders for the fourth place.
Luck of the Irish
For a long time, Ireland and Sevens weren’t closely associated. Although a 15s-a-side powerhouse, Irish 7s teams only recently took centre stage. Whereas the men’s team is yet to qualify (potentially in Hong Kong this April) to become a core team on the circuit, the women’s showed in Sydney that they have the quality to compete for silverware.
Magnificent Black Ferns
In terms of the Women’s World Sevens Series, the Black Ferns from New Zealand are running the show on their ownn and they simply seem to be unstoppable. They have now won six tournaments in a row and haven’t lost a single match this season. With 60 points in the bank and the current form, it would be a heavy surprise if the World Champions don’t lift the trophy at the end of the season in Biarritz.
Almost perfect US-boys
The current success of the USA is no real surprise. The American rugby programme is based on a long-term well-structured strategy and with Mike Friday, the right person is in charge to lead this team. However, while sitting at the top of the table, head-to-head, with New Zealand, it must be utterly frustrating to be featured in four finals and lose them all. Surely, this team will find the x-factor sooner rather than later, they certainly deserved it.
New Zealand’s pool of talented rugby players seems to be sheer endlessly deep. Whether this is 15s, 7s, league or touch, there are so many outstanding players coming from the land of the long white clouds. In the current All Blacks Sevens squad, one man is making a lot of headlines with his vast and impressive skill set. 25-year old Sione Molia from Auckland has been the standout character in this strong team. The stats are speaking for themselves: With 53 tackles, 11 breaks, 7 offloads and 75 carries, Milia leads the DHL Performance Tracker.