It has been widely noted over the past few years that the Wellington Sevens have lost their allure, certainly for the fans.
The Hong Kong Sevens tournament certainly doesn’t seem to have lost anything. Now into its 42nd year, it is still going strong.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 7, 2017
This year New Zealand have joined the defending champions and 16-time winners, Fiji, in a pool also comprising former world champions, Wales, and Japan. The tournament got off to a solid start for the Kiwis, with a 19-7 victory over the Welsh. The Fijians were in typically rampant form against the Japanese, who had no answer to their strength and power; eventually running out victors by 36-0. The expectation would be that both New Zealand and Fiji will make light work of their second round matches before locking horns in the final match of the pool late in the day in Hong Kong.
No matter what happens in that third match, Fiji and New Zealand will be thrown on to opposite sides of the draw, meaning that a repeat of the past two finals is a very real possibility.
In fact, New Zealand and Fiji have met a remarkable 14 times in finals, with Fiji running out victors on 9 of those occasions. However, New Zealand, after dominating the sevens circuit for over a decade has been caught and surpassed by a number of other teams now. It is also the first time since 1994 that the great Gordon Tietjens has not been at the helm.
New Zealand are currently sitting in fourth place on the World Series ladder. This puts them 16, 19, and 42 points respectively down on Fiji, England and the South Africans.
With England and South Africa being the only two sides to score tournament victories this season, it seems unlikely Fiji or New Zealand will prevail. History is on their side though with the Africans still sitting on a duck at Hong Kong. England have won the tournament 4 times; most recently in 2006.
One thing is for sure, the final two days of the tournament are going to bring a lot of drama and unearth a great number of sub-plots. Will South Africa break their duck? Can New Zealand or Fiji break their tournament duck this season with victory in the tournament of tournaments? Will the great Gordon Tietjens raise his ninth trophy by leading Samoa to glory? Or will we have a surprise winner from left-field? Canada, USA, Scotland, or the Kenyans with the flying Collins Injera showing us how it’s done?
Author: Steven Prescott
I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.