Sevens promotion-relegation: The danger zone

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 30 April 2013
 Sevens promotion-relegation: The danger zone
USA closed the gap on Scotland in Tokyo and are now tied with them for 12th place overall

At the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Marriott London Sevens on 11-12 May, the three lowest-ranked of the current 15 core teams will have to play off for the three available core team places on the 2013/14 Series.

As things stand the bottom six core teams are all either from Europe or North America and the pressure is on to secure as many Series points as possible at the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens on 4-5 May.

Having witnessed in Hong Kong the quality of the teams they will line up against - Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Russia, Tonga and Georgia - it is a hurdle none will relish jumping over, and for some it is simply unthinkable.

With only one more round to play until the promotion / relegation cut-off, we assess those six teams in the 'danger zone' heading into the Scotstoun tournament.


England - 10th, 58 Series points
England finished strongly in Hong Kong and Tokyo, Ben Ryan bullying a new-found attitude out of his side on day two to claim both Bowls and 16 valuable points, but there is no hiding from the fact that they have not performed on day one this season. As a result, they have only reached one Cup quarter final in seven rounds this season - in Wellington, where they went on to win the title. Of all the core teams, only Spain have fared worse in terms of Cup quarter finals reached.
It would take some extraordinary results to land England in the relegation zone by the end of Glasgow, but with the Rugby World Cup Sevens approaching Ryan will be demanding that his players perform like world-beaters and go out to finish the season as well as possible. There's no travel of note and no jet lag, so no excuses not to get it right. Their first match in Glasgow will set the tone, and it is against New Zealand. Their other pool games are against two other sides in the danger zone, Portugal and tournament hosts Scotland. Not easy.
Canada - 11th, 54 points
Canada have looked a class act for much of this season and have hit three Cup quarters including in Hong Kong, but at the last round in Tokyo they struggled to assert themselves a little and came away with a disappointing three Series points. Phil Mack is back in a side rammed full of the country's finest talent and they should be good enough to keep themselves out of the relegation zone.
However, they do line up in Glasgow's toughest pool against the teams ranked second, fourth and fifth - South Africa, Samoa and Kenya.
Scotland - 12th= 46 points
Scotland lie uncomfortably in 12th place in the standings alongside USA, ahead of Portugal and Spain but teetering on the edge of relegation and the need to try and re-qualify in London. They have a strong history of performing well on home soil but face a really tough pool featuring Series leaders New Zealand, England and Portugal in a must-win first game.
Stephen Gemmell and his men will be desperate to draw on all the energy they can get from the crowd and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact test cap Lee Jones can make, if picked, as well as John Houston who is newly committed to Sevens.

USA - 12th = 46 points
Equal on points with Scotland having beaten them 17-0 in the Tokyo Plate final, Alex Magleby's side has momentum and is full of confidence too, having welcomed captain Matt Hawkins and flyer Carlin Isles back to full fitness.

You never know with Rugby Sevens but their pool task may be a little easier than Scotland's with matches against France, Wales and RWC7s hosts Russia.

Portugal - 14th, 34 points
Portugal have been very impressive at times this season and have reached three Cup quarter finals, including in Hong Kong, but one point from Tokyo means they're now staring down the barrel and are most likely treating Glasgow as preparation for the core team play-off at Twickenham.

If they can beat Scotland first up it will do wonders for their confidence, and for their chances with matches to follow against England and New Zealand.

Spain - 15th, 25 points

Spain have been brilliant on occasions this season and possess real game-breakers in the likes of captain Pablo Feijoo and big Javier Canosa but they sorely missed their leading try-scorer, Pedro Martin, in Hong Kong and Tokyo. They are the only side not to have reached a Cup quarter final this season, which really hits their points tally, and they will certainly line up against the likes of Zimbabwe, Russia, Tonga, Hong Kong and Georgia needing to respond positively to the challenge - as they did last year in Hong Kong - and put in a string of good performances.

The pool draw did not help their cause much either, with games on day one against Fiji, Australia and Argentina.

Glasgow Sevens

Round 8
9-10 May 2015
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
City: Glasgow
Capacity: 15,000

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D
  • DJ Forbes and John Moonlight
  • Colin Gregor - Glasgow Sevens
  • Virimi Vakatawa - Glasgow Sevens