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The Hong Kong Sevens is the flagship of the sevens circuit, having been founded in 1976. Yet this year’s tournament was snubbed, with South Africa sending a B team along, as they were targeting the Commonwealth Games sevens.
On further inspection, I found that not only South Africa but New Zealand, England and Australia sent light teams as well.
Although the Blitzbokke’s depth was far greater than that of New Zealand, England and Aussie, what went down still leaves a bad taste. Kenya would have beaten the Blitzbokke in the final had they got there!
The bright side was for being able to see talent that would not have otherwise been on display, however I am against sending a B team with a B team coach.
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I do not have an issue with particular players standing down to focus on the Comm Games – yes it’s sad, but I understand they have bigger aspirations. However, there is both the Commonwealth Games as well as the World Cup year, which is silly – why not have them in alternate years? It canot be that difficult to organise.
Lastly, it’s time to take the sevens series to size-orientated stadiums. Sure, the Cape Town sevens is a full house, booked up around six months before the date, but playing in big stadiums that are not full is not a clever option. Rather, have them in a full 10,000-seater.
The sevens is a great product, but the organisers can’t sit back and think it will work on its own – do your research, grow the game and give more teams a chance to show their wears.
Finally, they must allocate importance to certain tournaments, much like tennis, where Grand Slams are top ranked, then the 1000 series, followed by 500 and 250 series. Having this in the sevens series would give the bigger teams a choice as to which ones they want to attend, and allow fringe teams like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Japan and Russia regular invites to smaller evenst.
Doing so will eliminate snubbing.