Glasgow 7s Pool A profile: NZL, RSA, SAM, POR

(IRB.COM) Thursday 1 May 2014
 Glasgow 7s Pool A profile: NZL, RSA, SAM, POR
Clash of the titans: Series chasing New Zealand and South Africa play in Pool A in Glasgow

We look at an ultra-competitive Pool A in Glasgow, including Series-chasing New Zealand and South Africa, plus Samoa and Portugal.

New Zealand - @nz7s
Rd 1 - Australia: 1st
Rd 2 - Dubai: 3rd
Rd 3 - South Africa: 2nd
Rd 4 - USA: 2nd
Rd 5 - NZ: 1st
Rd 6 - Japan: 4th
Rd 7 - HK: 1st
Series rank: 1st

What can you say about 11-time Series winners New Zealand, who seem to get better and better with every new challenge that is thrown at them. This season there is no question that South Africa have pushed them close, and even had the edge on them at times, but the conveyor belt of talent and the hunger to impress coach Gordon Tietjens, seems to allow the Kiwis to go up a gear whenever they need to. Captain DJ Forbes has been outstanding this season - his first as a full-time Sevens professional - and with Tim Mikkelson and Scott Curry assisting in leading the team it is hard to see them slipping up and losing a seven-point lead, such is their mental strength. If they reach both Cup finals in Glasgow and London they cannot be caught.

South Africa - @bokrugby
Rd 1 - Australia: 4th
Rd 2 - Dubai: 2nd
Rd 3 - South Africa: 1st
Rd 4 - USA: 1st
Rd 5 - NZ: 2nd
Rd 6 - Japan: 2nd
Rd 7 - HK: Plate winners 5th
Series rank: 2nd

South Africa enter the final two tournaments as the only side realistically capable of catching and overhauling New Zealand in the standings. It's a delicious prospect that the two play each other on day one and for New Zealand to falter at the pool stage they must beat them at the end of the day and hope that Samoa or Portugal have caused an earlier upset. Otherwise they are hoping that someone else does them a favour and beats them in knock-out play before the final. At the start of the season there were question marks over the appointment of Neil Powell, who had no real prior International coaching experience, but he is been a revelation for this South African side. As a recent former player he knows what the players need and seems to have managed them effectively, giving them freedom and responsibility. If New Zealand reach both Cup finals to be played they will be crowned the season's champions, but if they don't and South Africa have two stunning tournaments a second World Series title could be theirs. That must be motivation enough.

Samoa - @manusamoa
Rd 1 - Australia: Cup QF
Rd 2 - Dubai: Bowl SF
Rd 3 - South Africa: 3rd
Rd 4 - USA: 4th
Rd 5 - NZ: Cup QF
Rd 6 - Japan: Shield R/U
Rd 7 - HK: Bowl SF
Series rank: 6th

Viliamu Punivalu has come in as the new coach this season and has built from the ground up. Gone are the veterans of yesteryear, on whom a World Series-winning campaign was built in 2010. In the place of those physical giants smaller more nimble players have come in and as a result the Samoans are playing a totally different brand of rugby sevens based on possession and passing, less collision and brute force. This new style is taking a while for them to bed in and injury has also affected performance, as was witnessed at the last two rounds, but given that this has been a transitional season it must go down as a good season. But the fans back home are a tough audience to please.

Portugal - @portugalrugby
Rd 1 - Australia: Shield runners-up
Rd 2 - Dubai: Bowl runners-up 10th
Rd 3 - South Africa: Cup QF
Rd 4 - USA: Shield SF
Rd 5 - NZ: Shield SF
Rd 6 - Japan: Shield SF
Rd 7 - HK: Shield R/U
Series rank: 14th

There is no hiding from the fact that it has been a struggle this season with only one Cup quarter-final reached. Fighting battles on two fronts - 15s and Sevens - has been Portugal's main problem with European Nations Cup action, and hence Rugby World Cup qualifying, sucking up much of their energy and playing resource both at home and abroad. That should be less of an issue in Glasgow and also London and they should be safe of relegation for next season, which is fortunate for them given their pool draw.  Their defence is still as dogged as ever and they create chances but they have missed some of their quick players for that cutting edge.

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