Samoa gets tough pool in Hamilton Sevens
The Manu Samoa Sevens already has its work cut out for the new year with the pools for the Hamilton Sevens putting them in a very tough spot.
Gordon Tietjen’s men have been named in pool D where they will have to confront the likes of Fiji, Argentina and Australia for a place in the Cup playoffs.
Samoa’s fortunes on the world series have been a mixed bag so far.
After getting off to a flying start in Dubai where they finished in the top four, they had a nightmare finish in Cape Town where they lost all their games – except for a lone victory against Spain.
That performance has landed them in the predicament they will find themselves in down at Hamilton.
Ranked seventh, the men in blue will have to step up against a hurting Fijian team who have so far struggled this season.
As if that’s not tough enough, Argentina and Australia are capable of beating any team on their day.
The team might also have to play without Manu Samoa wing, Belgium Tuatagaloa, who recently signed a professional contract to play rugby in the United Kingdom. Tuatagaloa has been one of their most outstanding players.
Overall, it’s the Hamilton Sevens is shaping up to be an extremely tough competition.
According to the HSBC Sevens website, the men’s event sees the hosts and current joint series leaders the All Blacks Sevens drawn with Scotland, USA and Wales in Pool A.
Fellow joint series leaders South Africa, who were victorious in Dubai, will take on Kenya, England and invitational team Japan in Pool B.
Third placed France will be looking to keep their strong run of form going as they face Ireland, Canada and Spain in Pool C.
The men’s competition gets under way with Ireland versus Canada at 11:57 on Saturday, 25 January while New Zealand first take to the field against Wales at 14:31 on day one of the competition.
Fiji will be aiming to return to the form that saw them crowned HSBC New Zealand Sevens champions in 2019 when they overcame USA in the final. Hosts New Zealand claimed the bronze medal on home soil.
All Blacks Sevens head coach Clark Laidlaw said: “The players can’t wait to get out on the field at FMG Stadium Waikato and play in front of a big home crowd.”
The series also forms a crucial part of Olympic preparation for the teams as rugby sevens will take centre stage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the competition taking place at the Tokyo Stadium from 27 July-1 August.
Eleven men’s and 10 women’s teams have qualified for Tokyo 2020 so far with last season’s world series acting as the principal route for qualification with the top four teams in the men’s and women’s competitions automatically qualifying. Only three places remain to be confirmed – one men’s and two women’s – with the global repechage tournament in June 2020 determining which teams will occupy the final spots.