This weekend marks the return of the HSBC Sevens World Series as 16 teams head to the Gold Coast of Australia. The first of nine venues on the world circuit, the Series runs until May in London.
So don your fancy dress and brush up on your Sevens knowledge with our handy guide.
As a quick, whistle-stop tour of last year’s Series [deep breath] … New Zealand overcame the hosts in last year’s Gold Coast Final to get themselves off to a strong start on their ultimately Series-winning run before succumbing in Round 2 in Dubai to the Flying Fijians, who went onto beat South Africa in the Final. South Africa made up for this disappointment in their home tournament in Port Elizabeth and made it two on the bounce in Round 4 in Las Vegas.
The home team again triumphed in Wellington, New Zealand, before the Series headed to the bright lights of Tokyo for Round 6, where Fiji ran out winners against South Africa.
The party atmosphere kicked in with its usual furvour in Hong Kong, where apparently there was actually some rugby played and New Zealand kick-started a dominant run-in towards the end of the Series. Victory in HK was followed by wins in Scotland and London, over Canada and Australia respectively, to wrap up the Series.
– Number of countries who play in this year’s Series – 15 core teams + an invitational side in each round
– Number of matches in the Series – 405
– Number of expected minutes played in the Series – 8,982
– Distances the players travel throughout the Series – [now this is pretty staggering] as the crow flies in miles – England travels a total of 91,097.25; Fiji a total 72,530.24.
– Average time per tries in 2013/14 Series – try every 70 seconds
– Record Series fan attendance – last year’s London Sevens had 74,974 people on the Saturday (112,487 in total), whereas Hong Kong hosts 120,000 across 3 days
– Number of Series broadcasters – 34
– Number of countries which cover the Series – 145 countries reached with match or highlights coverage
– Number of people who watch the Series on TV – total airtime of 4590 hours, across a potential 900 million people in 400 million homes
The Team To Watch
South Africa. An interesting choice, you might think, given New Zealand have won 12 of the last 15 Series, and all four Commonwealth Games that Sevens has featured in … until Glasgow that is. In July, South Africa became the first EVER team to beat New Zealand in any Commonwealth Games match since Sevens was introduced to the Games in 1998, by out-scoring them three tries to two in a tense final. That 17-12 victory will have worked wonders for the confidence of the BlitzBokke, who have narrowly missed out on the World Series to their Southern Hemisphere rivals for the last two years.
The aptly-named Cecil Afrika and his countryman Seabelo Senatla both crossed for South Africa in that final, Senatla claiming a brace, the pair epitomising the searing pace that exists throughout the squad. Justin Geduld, Frankie Horne, Branco du Preez and Kwagga Smith were also in that side to claim Gold, so will have developed ‘big game’ experience that will no doubt prove invaluable in the coming Series.
The Player To Watch
Last year’s top-scorer Tom Mitchell, will inevitably run in a try or two again but for sheer pace and adrenaline-busting excitement, the man to watch has to be, quite simply, the fastest man in rugby – Carlin Isles. More stats? Why not?
– A power to weight ratio better than Usain Bolt and faster over 20m
– Faster than any NFL player in history over 40m
– A vertical jump of 42in that would see him in the top-10 NBA players (compared to Kobe Bryant’s paltry 38in)
Don’t believe us? Believe HSBC Rugby: