Starmers : Sevens never lets you down

Starmers : Sevens never lets you down

Two tournaments in a row is hard enough, it really is, but the logistics of going from the Gold Coast, across the world to Dubai and then again to Port Elizabeth, has added a new dimension to the start of this season. It will be like running three marathons in succession and it will be the survival of the fittest at the end but there are three great tournaments ahead, and with the advent of the first ever women’s tournament in Dubai, it will be a very exciting first three weeks. In terms of the teams and players that I believe we should watch out for, one that appeals to me is a new figure in Kenya. The legendary Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange, who have lit up the Series for years, have a younger brother and I for one am looking forward to seeing him in a new-look Kenya squad as he is apparently cut from the same block.

Two tournaments in a row is hard enough, it really is, but the logistics of going from the Gold Coast, across the world to Dubai and then again to Port Elizabeth, has added a new dimension to the start of this season.
It will be like running three marathons in succession and it will be the survival of the fittest at the end but there are three great tournaments ahead, and with the advent of the first ever women’s tournament in Dubai, it will be a very exciting first three weeks.

In terms of the teams and players that I believe we should watch out for, one that appeals to me is a new figure in Kenya. The legendary Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange, who have lit up the Series for years, have a younger brother and I for one am looking forward to seeing him in a new-look Kenya squad as he is apparently cut from the same block.

England have got the advent of Rob Vickerman who has been inspirational in the past, an outstanding player, and they also have a fit Isoa Damu back in the squad.

New Zealand's Ben Souness is another I would pick out as he has come back having played 15s and has switched back to Sevens. He is tremendously powerful, very quick and a very useful asset to New Zealand. They hardly need any more assets having won last season with a tremendous side, but he offers more options for Gordon Tietjens.

Of course they were marshaled by the player of the moment Tomasi Cama and alongside Cecil Afrika they are master playmakers, but unfortunately Cecil Afrika has fractured his cheekbone as he did last year and will be a massive blow for at least the first two tournaments for Paul Treu.

Dark horses

I think however, looking down the field a little that it is about time for some of these teams who have been in the wings come through, like USA, Russia and China. Russia now have Sevens in their curriculum due to the Olympic decision. They are looking stronger by the month and will come through and be a handful.
You get a side like Portugal too who have the capacity to beat England as they did last year and they are a dark horse as well. China also have an enormous number of new players in their training squads and could be a big surprise.

Canada, they like Portugual, demand the most from their players to play Sevens and 15s. They have seven, maybe eight players from their Rugby World Cup squad and this could see them have invaluable experience when it comes to playing in front of the huge crowds we come to expect on the Series. Of the existing challengers there is of course Kenya, when thy are on song they can beat anybody.

In Sevens you can’t predict anything and as Gordon Tietjens has said on many occasions, every game is a challenge, every match is uncertain. And that is the beauty of it. You can think of eight teams from the 16 in the tournament and anyone could win the Cup, and we haven’t even mentioned Fiji, Samoa or even Argentina. This is the joy of it and why it is so appealing across the world.

Sevens buzz

Inevitably New Zealand will be there or thereabouts, no team has ever played as consistently well - they have never lost more than two games in a row. They are masterminded by the best Sevens coach in Gordon Tietjens, they have the quality and also the players who want to make their names in Sevens.

They are going to be up there at the top, going for a 10th title in 13 seasons and that says it all. They will go in as favourites, but not firm favourites because there are several sides who are all very close in the contest.

Around the world there is an exciting buzz and atmosphere for Sevens now with nine tournaments. Each one has the big names but equally the excitement of the Cook Islands, Georgia, Brazil, all of these teams that don't just turn up to make the numbers, they really feel they have a chance. So the Gold Coast where Japan, Tonga, Nieu and PNG will be testing their skills at the Skilled Stadium.

Sevens is a social event, a wonderful sporting event and it is a festival. It is a lot of fun and I have never been to a tournament that has let me down.