Starmers: Unpredictable Sevens heads to SA

(IRB.COM) Monday 3 December 2012
 Starmers: Unpredictable Sevens heads to SA
Samoa defeated New Zealand in the Dubai Cup final

In his latest column for, renowned rugby broadcaster Nigel Starmer-Smith looks back on the drama of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, and ahead to round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series this weekend, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens.

I for one can't wait to see what happens next in an already unpredictable 2012/13 Series.

All the teams have traveled to South Africa for the third round and nobody can honestly say there is a favourite to win the title, nor can they predict what is going to happen!

You have 16 teams and now you don't even know who is going to get into the Cup quarter finals.

But that is now the beauty of Sevens and as a result of the unpredictability in Dubai we now have four fascinating pools to look forward to on day one at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

You look at Pool B with New Zealand, Fiji, England and Scotland and just take a deep breath....but then you can look at Pool D with Canada, Portugal, USA and Zimbabwe and it is almost as difficult. And the hosts have Samoa, Australia and France, a side who really impressed me in Dubai for a second successive year. 

What we have now are so many of the teams that are not quite as good as they very best, beating them on one off times and this was what was happening in Dubai. Those one off times are now going to become more regular.

People are riveted by Sevens, because you just have no idea almost in any game, who is going to win, and the expected 80,000 fans across this next weekend are in for a treat.

It was some tournament in Dubai - completely and utterly unpredictable and wasn't it just amazing?

Dubai highlights

Samoa just lifted their game, nothing like the previous day where they lost to England and could so easily gone out in the pool and not got into the Cup quarter finals.

But they did and they lifted it, but then they had a guy suspended, then they lost Paul Perez who had an amazing start in the final. After nine seconds he scored a try which must have shocked New Zealand, then another a couple of minutes later.

I think everyone thought New Zealand would win. They were the only side to have not lost a match all tournament, until this. They looked impressive, they had great players back in Kurt Baker and Sherwin Stowers. But that is the beauty of it - all of this is part of the process of 14 minutes, or 20 in a final.

Who would have said too that also Australia, England and this week's hosts South Africa would be way down this time.

I can't not mention Kenya either. Two Cup semi finals in two rounds in succession. I have to put credit here to Mike Friday who has given them discipline.

I can think they had inspirational days when Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange dominated about three years ago but they then fell away the last two seasons.

Now they have the discipline, the intent, they don't kick the ball away, their handling is so much better and they are fitter than they have been for some time.

What an example, and now you can see likewise some of the others like Spain, like Portugal, they are all just as competitive.

Once I have drawn breath from Dubai, I cannot wait to see what happens next in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens

Round 3
13-14 December 2014
Venue: Port Elizabeth Bay Stadium
City: Port Elizabeth
Capacity: 48,459

  • Emirates RWC Worldwide Partner
  • Cecil Afrika, South Africa
  • Frankie Horne