New Zealand Rugby chief Mark Robinson has failed to back coach Ian Foster for the long haul at a media conference on Sunday, but…
Lock into some high-quality international rugby this weekend as the Australian men’s and women’s teams continue their buildup to the Commonwealth Games at the Oceania Super Sevens in New Zealand.
Running from Friday through Sunday and including New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, the tournament will be on Stan Sport.
For the rugby supporter, especially the 15s enthusiasts who may not have really got into the Sevens games, this is a perfect opportunity.
It is quite a different game, but the skills are outstanding with Australia having a few stars worth checking out.
Hopefully we will see more sevens players such as Dylan Pietsch and Tim Anstee transition to the 15s game.
Obviously we do not know how the teams will approach this tournament. Australia, New Zealand and Fiji are some of the big dogs of the World Rugby World Series. A question is whether they will hold a few things back or test some different combinations.
It would not be unusual for the coaches to keep a few things up their sleeves for the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup later in the year. However, at the same time, players will be trying to impress to be selected to represent their countries at the Commonwealth Games.
For those who have not watched much sevens the following are some stats Tim Walsh provided on The Rugby Coach’s Corner podcast last year.
– 65-70% of their training is around the unstructured part of the game.
– From 10 penalty taps, usually seven will be quick taps, three will be structured set plays. The quick taps are an important part but not a major part.
– There are approximately 21 rucks in a game, there are around eight restarts from six tries, game kick off and half time kick off, 2.6 scrums and 2.1 lineouts.
– So restarts are a critical part of the game.
– Minimal focus on set piece in sevens compared to 15s.
– The ability to transition from structured to unstructured in defence and attack is critical and where you can make a difference.
So who are some players to look out for? (Noting the squads have yet to be announced).
Nic Malouf – As captain he provides the necessary leadership and calmness on the field. When in doubt or when there is nothing on, he trucks the ball up, and settles everything down.
Corey Toole – A youngster with real speed to burn. In sevens you cannot overstate the value of pure speed. (Also he is part of the Brumbies academy).
Dietrich Roache – Out of the Western Sydney Two Blues, 20 years old, debuted at the Olympics, has all the skills plus has the responsibility as the team’s kicker.
Henry Patterson – Scored three tries in the London final, seriously under rated. Not at Charlie Gamble level but has a quality moustache.
Maurice Longbottom – Just fun to watch with his footwork and speed. He has also really lifted his defence in recent times.
Ben Dowling – Part of the Waratahs academy, keep an eye on him if he plays. He is also in the Junior Wallabies squad that plays its first game next week.
Charlotte Caslick – As one of the lads said on The Rugby Report Card pod, possibly the best all-around Australian rugby player male or female over the last 5+ years.
Madison Levi – Debuted at the Olympics, a long striding winger, who runs off Caslick and has added an aerial dimension to the women’s team.
Faith Nathan – A pocket rocket, (recently on the World Rugby Sevens highlight reel again), and matches her speed with a highly effective defence.
Madison Ashby – The best descriptor, she is almost a Caslick mini me.
Alysia Lefau Fakaosilea – She did miss the last tournament in Toulouse. If she plays she brings physicality to the side in both defence and attack. She provides the big hits and near impossible to tackle one-on-one.
Obviously apart from the Aussie contingent it would be remiss not to mention the New Zealand women’s team which is chock full of stars such as Portia Woodman, Sarah Hirini, Michaela Blyde and Tyla Nathan-Wong.
So when the playing schedule is released, check out the times. Watch it live or on replay. Either way you will not be disappointed and get the opportunity to watch some of the best sevens players in action.
For more insight about the men’s sevens program have a listen to the Pick and Drive podcast which did a very interesting long form chat with coach John Manenti