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Magnus Bradbury

Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury one of Scotland 7s newcomers

Scotland 7s Head Coach Calum MacRae has named 3 new caps in his 12-man squad to compete in the opening leg of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series, in Dubai (Friday 4 & Saturday 5 December).

The squad, which will travel to South Africa for the 2nd leg of the Series following proceedings in Dubai, will include Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury; his capital club-mate Nick McLennan; and Scotland Under 20 wing Robbie Nairn.

MacRae said: “The extended Sevens off season, due to the Rugby World Cup, has afforded us time to develop aspects of our play and make gains in our strength and conditioning.  The players application has been excellent throughout.

“The mindset has been to improve and build on last years performances, not rest on them.  In addition to the core squad members, we have also targeted developing young, Scottish talent who have a lot of potential and a big future ahead in both the abbreviated game and in the 15-a-side set-up.

“The exposure they will have to the international stage, will hopefully provide the platform they need to continue their development and progression in the game, as it has with so many players previously.”

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh were on Wednesday named in a strong Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) 12-man squad for the 1st 2 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments of the new season, in Dubai and Cape Town.

The season kicks off on 4 & 5 December with the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, which is followed a week later by the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens, on 12 & 13 December, at the Cape Town Stadium.

Hougaard has played in 35 Tests for the Springboks and recently joined the Sevens squad on a 1-year contract. He is set to make his World Series debut in Dubai, while DHL Western Province centre and skipper, Juan de Jongh (14 Tests), return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the 1st time since making his 1st and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.

Werner Kok, the newly-crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province) and last season’s top-try scorer on the World Series circuit, Seabelo Senatla, will combine with regular stalwarts Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rayno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs) to form a potent Blitzbokke backline attack.

The tough-tackling Benjamin is set to make his 30th World Series appearance while skipper Kyle Brown is on course to play in his landmark 50th tournament in his hometown of Cape Town.

The durable Brown, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith and Chris Dry will provide the necessary steel upfront and complete a strong selection who will defend their crown in Dubai. The Springbok Sevens are also the current tournament champions in South Africa.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens team (Blitzbokke) scooped the Team of Year Award at the annual SA Sports Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The SA Sports Awards is annually hosted by the Department of Sport and Recreation of South Africa, recognising SA sports individuals and teams for their outstanding sporting contributions on and off the field.

Springbok Sevens pipped the South African Test Cricket team and the SA Lightweight Women’s Rowing team to claim the prestigious award.

Sunday evening’s accolade capped a successful 2014 / 2015 season for the Blitzbokke team. They were the 1st team to qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and finished 2nd to Fiji on the final standings of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) were drawn with Scotland, Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on 4 & 5 December.

According to the draw announced by World Rugby last Friday, South Africa are the Top-seeds in Pool B for the opening Round of the bigger HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The Blitzbokke are the defending Dubai champions.

With global excitement building ahead of Sevens’ biggest season, the world’s top players – representing 28 national teams – will compete in Dubai from 3 to 5 December. The 12-team women’s tournament will be played on 3 & 4 December and the 16-team men’s event on 4 & 5 December.

In the men’s competition, reigning series champions Fiji head Pool A and kick off proceedings against Canada with further ties against Japan and Argentina.

12-Time series champions New Zealand face matches against USA, as well as France and Portugal in Pool C, while in Pool D England will compete against Australia, Wales and Kenya.

The South Africans start their Dubai campaign against powerful Samoa. They then face Russia in the mid-afternoon, before tackling Scotland later in the evening on the opening day.

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Olympics Rio 2016Twelve teams will battle it out for a place at the 2016 Olympic Games when they take part in this weekend’s Africa Regional Olympic qualifier in Johannesburg.

On 14 & 15 November, Johannesburg will host the 12 best African teams of Sevens rugby at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park.

Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Morocco, Tunisia, Zambia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Botswana, Nigeria and Mauritius will fight over 2 days of tournament to try to win the 1 and only golden ticket for Rio 2016!

The 3 other teams on the podium will have the opportunity to participate in the repechage, an international competition which will enable 1 single team to join the others.

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The Japanese Sevens team celebrate as they qualify for the Olympics in Rio

The Japanese Sevens team celebrate as they qualify for the Olympics in Rio

Japan’s men have qualified for the Rugby Sevens event in Rio 2016 after coming from behind to beat hosts Hong Kong 24 / 10 in the final of the Asian qualifier.

Hong Kong stunned their rivals by scoring 2 1st half tries to take a deserved 10 / 0 lead into halftime. But Japan responded in style to book their ticket for Rio and ensure the rugby fever sweeping Japan since the Brave Blossoms’ good showing at Rugby World Cup 2015 continued.

Japan swept through the pool stages at the Hong Kong Stadium winning all 4 of their games without conceding a single point (38 / 0 vs Chinese Taipei, 66 / 0 vs Singapore, 47 / 0 vs Korea and China 34 / 0). And Sri Lanka proved no match for them either in the semifinal, succumbing to a 43 / 0 defeat.

However, in a final more evenly contested than many people anticipated, Hong Kong gave Japan a real scare when Alex McQueen scored in the left hand corner to hand his side a 5 / 0 lead. Captain Max Woodward then doubled the advantage when he touched down on the opposite flank a minute before the break.

But Japan never looked back once they drew 1st blood in the 2nd half thanks to some wonderful footwork from Teruya Goto.

After Lemeki Lomano put Japan in front for the 1st time, Kazuhiro Goya and Katsuyki Sahai capitalised on Hong Kong mistakes to score twice in the final 90 seconds.

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Blue Bulls Men crowned SARU Interprovincial Sevens Champions

The Blue Bulls men’s and women’s teams on Saturday showed their class at the SARU Interprovincial Sevens at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit as they took top honours to round off a fantastic weekend for the Pretoria union.

The Blue Bulls men defeated Western Province 38 / 29 and the women pipped Western Province 24 / 22 in their respective Cup Finals in what was a thrilling tournament.

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Jurie Roux

Jurie Roux, SARU CEO

South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO Jurie Roux says they had no choice but to move their Sevens World Series event away from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.

Roux was speaking to journalists in Cape Town on Wednesday after the announcement of several new sevens signings for the Springbok Sevens team.

Cape Town will in December host the South African leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for the 1st time after the event had been held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth since 2011.

Roux said that it was imperative for South Africa to host a successful tournament as World Rugby had insisted that the event be staged at an iconic destination.

“In terms of their criteria, only the tournaments at Twickenham and Hong Kong were successful,” said Roux.

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BlitzbokkeRugby World Cup Springboks Bryan Habana, Damian de Allende and Lwazi Mvovo are among a host of 15-a-side stars who will be in contention for places in South Africa’s Olympic Sevens squad, the South African Rugby Union announced on Wednesday.

They will be joined by Springbok team mates Juan de Jongh, Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks and Oupa Mohoje at a 3-week training camp from Sunday in Stellenbosch as part of the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) new Sevens strategy in Olympic year, announced Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.

Habana has returned to his French club side Toulon and will join the training camp towards the end of the month. SARU also confirmed that Springboks Francois Hougaard and Ryan Kankowski had already signed contracts to play for the Springbok Sevens team this season.

In addition, provincial 15-a-side stars Cheslin Kolbe, Rayno Benjamin, Warrick Gelant and Jaco Kriel have also been invited to join the camp alongside SARU’s powerful, existing Sevens squad.

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Benjamin Ayimba

Benjamin Ayimba

Kenya Sevens coach Benjamin Ayimba has warned his team faces a difficult task to qualify for the Olympic Games during the African regional qualifying tournament in South Africa next week.

Kenya are top seeds and are pitted against 12 other African sides, and must win the tournament in Johannesburg on 15 November, to earn qualification to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where Sevens will makes its debut.

“This is really a tough test for us. It will not be an easy task,” said Ayimba, whose team are drawn against Madagascar, Mauritius and Senegal in the opening Pool A matches.

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SpringboksThe SA Under 18 Sevens team emulated the senior Springbok Sevens Blitzbokke when they also clinched the gold medal at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa in the early hours of Friday morning.

The South African boys won gold after their 31 / 20 defeat of Australia in the final, played in simmering heat on the South Pacific Island of Samoa. They finished the Games unbeaten after wins over Singapore (61 / 0), Namibia (46 / 0), England (19 / 14) and hosts Samoa (29 / 0).

The Springbok Sevens are the reigning Commonwealth Games champions after their gold medal success in Glasgow last year.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

Referee Craig Joubert has made the cut with 3 fellow South Africans for the team of 12 match officials selected for the 2015 / 2016 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby announced on Monday.

Joubert will link up with Ben Crouse, Rasta Rasivhenge and Marius van der Westhuizen and 8 new colleagues following the completion of Rugby World Cup 2015 and before the opening Round in Dubai. He will remain available for 15-a-side duty throughout the season.

Rasivhenge is also among the 10 officials who have been selected for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which will also kick off in the United Arab Emirates.

The desire from the world’s top 15s referees to be a part of the match officials’ team, heightens the already tough competition for places as excitement builds in anticipation of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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Geraint John

Geraint John

Welshman Geraint John on Monday quit as coach of Australia’s Sevens team to take up a new role for the Welsh Rugby Union.

The sudden announcement comes barely a year out from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

John, who had served as the Sevens director and head coach since June 2014, resigned to take up a new position with the WRU as the leader of the elite coach development.

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Liam Messam

Liam Messam

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam are the only 2 All Blacks regulars named in New Zealand’s initial rugby sevens squad on Wednesday to begin preparations for next year’s Rio Olympics.

Williams had been widely expected to make himself available for the sevens team for Rio after his switch back from rugby league late last year.

Messam, a former sevens player before he made the All Blacks, had also said he was keen on trying to win Olympic gold in Rio with Gordon Tietjens’ sevens side.

“We know what Liam can do and he will certainly give us some new options up front,” Tietjens said in a statement.

“He’s a hugely experienced sevens player having won 2 Commonwealth Games gold medals and been part of sevens World Series winning New Zealand teams.

“Sonny Bill Williams is a great athlete and has shown he can adapt very easily to the demands of rugby.

“I see him adjusting very well to the fast pace of sevens. He’ll be a great attacking weapon with his speed, strength and uncanny ability to offload.”

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DJ Forbes

DJ Forbes

DJ Forbes says he is stepping down as captain of the New Zealand Sevens team after 9 years in the role, a year ahead of the sport’s debut at the Rio de Janiero Olympic Games.

The 32-year-old said he decided to resign from the role after discussions with long-time coach Gordon Tietjens.

Forbes said “by stepping aside from the responsibilities of captain I can focus solely on what I need to do to get in the best shape mentally and physically. (Tietjens) and I agree this is the best way to get me to the Olympics.”

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wallabies wing Henry Speight will join Australia’s Sevens programme as part of a new 3-year deal announced by the Australian Rugby Union on Thursday.

Speight’s new contract with the ARU will see him remain with the Brumbies through to the end of 2018 and join the Australian Sevens programme in 2016.

The landmark deal means Speight will be available for the inaugural Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium in February next year.

As part of the agreement between the ARU and the Brumbies, Speight will combine his duties with the national Sevens program and his Super Rugby team throughout 2016.

As well as the Sydney Sevens on the weekend on 6 – 7 February, Speight will be available for selection for the Hong Kong and London legs of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series and – pending qualification – the Rio 2016 Olympics.

At the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, Speight will be available for the Wallabies for the remainder of The Rugby Championship before returning full-time with the Brumbies for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.

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Kenyan Sevens

Kenyan Sevens

Chaos has erupted in Kenyan rugby that threatens to engulf their highly-successful Sevens programme and could end their hopes of qualifying for the Rio Olympics next year.

With players not having been paid for 3 months now, an attempt by the South African management members to resolve the impasse has been met with anger from the Kenyan Rugby Union, with officials trying to boot assistant coach Vuyo Zangqa and conditioning coach Graham Bentz from the country without resolving the crisis.

Kenya has been the beacon of African rugby and a shining light on World Rugby’s international Sevens circuit, but internal politics – the same problems that saw former Blitzbok coach Paul Treu sever his relationship with them last year – are now tearing the team apart.

There is currently a breakdown in the structures that have been put in place, with players not able to train properly, little or no support coming from the KRU, high-performance equipment breaking down. But it is the players not being paid that has brough the situation to a breaking point, with the KRU either unwilling, or unable to sort out the mess.

Their reaction to the South African management’s plea for help was to arrive at their training base on Tuesday, hand them plane tickets and tell them to “pack up and go.”

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Bernard Lapasset

Bernard Lapasset

No Shit Sherlock, finally we have a replacement for Brainy Smurf!!

Apologies, I could not help that, it just blurted out and it was as if my fingers were typing in automatic mode….

Well, the opinion by World Rugby’s president, Bernard Lappasset when commenting on Rugby Sevens’ growing popularity and competitaveness ahead of its return to the Olympic programme next year, which has led to a rethinking of 15’s role in the game leads him to the conclusion that Rugby 15’s need some reform!

The 67-year-old Frenchman, speaking on Tuesday ahead of a lucrative sponsorship announcement of both the men’s and for the 1st time the women’s sevens series, said there was a need for a new system for the 15’s version of the sport.

“We need to open up a new system for the 15 discipline,” he said.

“To bring the northern and southern hemisphere programmes closer together.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe Cape Town Sevens rugby tournament will take place on the weekend of 12 and 13 December, World Rugby announced in Paris on Tuesday when it confirmed the new schedule for the 2015 / 2016 season.

  • Round 2 of global Series set for 12 to 13 December in Mother City
  • New schedule revealed and popular Series extended to 10 iconic cities
  • Tickets to go on sale on 4 August for Cape Town date

At a major announcement in the French capital, World Rugby confirmed the Cape Town dates in a schedule featuring iconic locations which now also includes Sydney, Paris, Singapore and Vancouver as other new venues on the circuit.

The Cape Town Sevens will be the 2nd leg of the global tour – filling its traditional slot in early December, a week after the Series opener in Dubai.

SARU announced that tickets for the event would go on sale on Tuesday 4 August, through Computicket outlets. Details of prices and initiatives such as a family stand will be released at a ticket launch in due course.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Liam Messam

Liam Messam

The Chiefs will be without a host of players next season including captain Liam Messam who will play Sevens in a bid to make the Olympics.

Messam and star centre Sonny Bill Williams will be part of a large group of players that will not be around next season, and coach Dave Rennie admitted that his captain will be a massive loss to the side.

“Not just his playing ability but his leadership – he’s very charismatic, incredibly passionate – he’ll be very difficult to replace.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union Sevens Academy team followed their Roma Sevens triumph a week ago with another title after winning the Geneva Sevens competition this past weekend.

The win capped off a memorable 2-week tour of Europe for the South Africans, who remained undefeated after both tournaments.

The win in Switzerland was memorable for SARU Academy Manager, Marius Schoeman and head coach Paul Delport, as the team contested the final with only 8 players due to injuries. Despite this they had more than enough gas in the tank, beating Roma Seven 44 / 0 in the last match of the day at the Centre Sportif du Bout-du-Monde.

Earlier in the day they also had the better of Welsh side, Forces Exiles, in a tight 19 / 15 win, whilst they secured good wins on day 1 of the event, beating Roma Seven 19 / 0, Switzers 59 / 0, Monaco 33 / 0 and French team Lyon 40 / 0.

Regular Blitzbok Ruhan Nel was named player of the tournament.

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Mark Dodson

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive: Mark Dodson

In 20 years of the professional rugby age you could probably count the good news stories in the Scottish game on the fingers of 1 hand – or both hands if you were being generous.

This past week has been huge, however. Nobody is extrapolating Test match glory from Glasgow’s PRO12 skilful and clinical victory over Munster in Belfast last Saturday, but it was an uplifting occasion nonetheless.

On Thursday, Mark Dodson, the chief executive of Scottish Rugby, spoke about the union’s latest rugby academy, operating out of Edinburgh Napier University. The Edinburgh programme is run alongside others in Cumbernauld, Aberdeen and the Borders and all are for players age 14 and up.

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Werner Kok

Werner Kok

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Leading try-scorer on the 2014 / 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series, Seabelo Senatla and regular Tournament Dream Team member Werner Kok have both been nominated for the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Award, in association with HSBC.

This announcement, made by World Rugby on Sunday evening, caps off a memorable season for the Springbok Sevens duo, who alongside fellow team member Kwagga Smith, was also named in the Series Dream Team after the completion of the final tournament in London.

Kok and Senatla were nominated with Fijian ace Semi Kunatani, with the trio voted for by the management teams of the 15 core sides who compete at all 9 Rounds of the World Series. Kok ended the season as the leading tackler of all players and also scored 23 tries.

Senatla finished the season as the leading try scorer with 47 tries and has scored 2 of this year’s fans’ favourites, as well as scoring in both of South Africa’s Cup final victories in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe last leg of the 2014 / 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series took place in London England this Saturday and Sunday 16 and 17 May 2015 from 09:00 BST (10:00 SA Time) both days.

All the action was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on Saturday and on SuperSport 1 (Sunday) on TV in South Africa.

After 8 Rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand battled it out for the 16th World Series title in London.

Following their victory at the Glasgow Sevens last weekend, Fiji headed into the 9th and Final Round of the Series in 1st spot – with Ben Ryan’s side aiming to win their 1st Series title since 2006.

Not since 2010 has a side other than New Zealand won it, but with Fiji on 147 points and South Africa on 142 prior to this tournament, the 4-time defending champions had their work cut out to win a 13th World Series title as they sat 3rd on 139 Log Points, prior to this tournament.

New Zealand fell out of the race for the ultimate World Series title when England beat them in the quarter-final and the same fate befell South Africa’s Blitzbokke as they persihed against Fiji by 7 / 19 in the quarter-finals in London, the same fate which befell them in Glasgow.

Having led the Series since Round 2 the BlitzBokke failed to make the Cup semi-finals for the 1st time all season in Glasgow and now again in London.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesParis in France is 1 of 5 cities that will join the Rugby Sevens World Series from next season, World Rugby announced on Friday.

Vancouver, Sydney, Cape Town and Singapore have also been added to the 10-destination series for the 2015 / 2016 season, leading up to the sport’s debut at the Olympics in Rio.

The event will be held at the Jean Bouin stadium, home of the city’s Top 14 outfit Stade Francais.

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ScotlandIn a statement released yesterday (14 May 2015) The Board of Scottish Rugby unanimously confirmed that the national 7s team will continue to compete in the HSBC Sevens World Series.

The positive recent results by the team, heritage of the game in Scotland and incentive of contributing to a future Team GB Olympic 7s squad means Scottish Rugby will continue to support a national 7s team.

The current squad and management have been informed of this decision. Discussions will take place with the 7s team and management following the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in London to plan the structure of the programme for next season.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesIt is a tight race to see who takes the Series in Twickenham with Fiji leading the way, and the pools for the London leg have been confirmed.

After their Cup win at the 8th Round of the Series in Glasgow, Fiji are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up New Zealand, 3rd-placed England and the 4th semifinalist USA head the remaining pools.

The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides in the series qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. Following their performances in Glasgow, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand have all confirmed their place in Rio, with just the 4th and final spot still be decided.

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Semi Kunatani

Semi Kunatani

Free-scoring Fiji rugby Sevens powerhouse Semi Kunatani has joined French Top 14 club Toulouse on a 2-year deal, the club said on Tuesday.

The rampaging 24-year-old can play as a lock, flank or wing and with 37 international tries since his debut in 2013 he is seen as one of the best sevens players in the world.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe Glasgow Sevens, the 2nd last leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland at Scotstoun.

The Tournament is held over 2 days, with Saturday 9 May the 1st Day and the tournament concluding on Sunday 10 May.

The 3 leading sides in the World Series are South Africa (129 Log Points), Fiji (125 Log Points) and New Zealand (120 Log Points). England follows some distance behind in 3rd spot on 100 Log Points, with Australia 9 points behind them on 91 Log Points and the rest of the field far up the rear.

The Top 4 Teams in the standings at the end of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series, which concludes next weekend in London, England, automatically qualify for spots at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so for England and Australia there is all to play for in this tournament and next weekend.

For the Top 3 sides in the series, who have already made sure of Olympic qualification (bar the almost impossible preventing it in these 2 last tournaments) this weekend and the next is all about winning the HSBC World Series. South Africa are only 4 Points ahead of the Fijians, who have raised the bar and upped the ante substantially in the last few tournaments. New Zealand, who are last year’s champions are also within reach and will be desperate to beat Fiji and South Africa convincingly, in order to retain the crown.

The weekend’s action kicked off at 11:30 SA Time (10:30 BST, 09:30 GMT) and all the action was broadcast live on SuperSport 6, on TV in South Africa.

South Africa played Samoa at 12:58 SA Time (11:58 BST, 10:58 GMT), then they played Kenya at 16:04 SA Time (15:04 BST, 14:04 GMT) and their 3rd and last game of Day 1 was against New Zealand at 19:37 SA Time (18:37 BST, 17:37 GMT).

On Day 1 the traditionally big Sevens Nations of South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji all advanced to the quarters, joined by England, Canada, Scotland, Australia and the United States in the quarters.

Day 2’s action started at 12:30 SA Time (11:30 BST, 10:30 GMT) on Sunday and the action was broadcast on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa. The tournament concluded with the Cup Final which took place at 20:50 SA Time (19:50 BST, 18:50 GMT).

South Africa’s Blitzbokke lost their quarter-final game against Fiji by 0 / 15 and Fiji and New Zealand went on to contest the Cup Final.

Fiji managed to beat New Zealand in the Cup Final by 24 / 17, to take the Glasgow title.

Fiji has now moved to the Top of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series points table, 5 points above South Africa, who have moved down into 2nd spot. New Zealand have also crept closer to South Africa on the Log and only 8 points now seperate the Top 3 teams, going into the Final Round of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series next weekend in London, England.

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BlitzbokkeA good performance at the Glasgow Sevens will not only ensure that the Springbok Sevens stay in the hunt for the coveted HSBC Sevens World Series title, it would also clinch their spot as 1 of the 4 automatic qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

With the Top 3 teams in the Series separated by just 12 points, they will have everything to play for with an eye on the 16th Series title.

South Africa is currently in the Top Spot on the Log with 129 points and is the only side to have advanced to every Cup semi-final so far this season, while Fiji (125) and New Zealand (120) are hot on their heels.

The South Africans this week returned to Glasgow, where last year they experienced 1 of their greatest achievements by clinching the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said his team would draw inspiration from the triumph at the Ibrox Stadium.

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BlitzbokkeSpringbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has made 2 changes to his squad for the final 2 Rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in the United Kingdom next month.

The penultimate World Series tournament takes place on 9 and 10 May in Glasgow and the season concludes a week later with the 9th and last tournament of the season in London.

Stephan Dippenaar and Philip Snyman have both recovered from their knee injuries sustained in Hong Kong and return to the squad in place of the Carel du Preez (who made his debut in Tokyo) and the injured Justin Geduld (hamstring).

South Africa is currently leading the World Series standings after 7 Rounds, having won 2 Cup finals (Dubai and Port Elizabeth) and qualifying for the semi-finals of each of the previous 7 tournaments.

The team now returns to Glasgow, the venue of their Commonwealth Games triumph of last year. This time they face a daunting task to qualify for the quarterfinals.

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Tim Nanai-Williams

Tim Nanai-Williams

Samoa have named an enlarged 58-man playing squad which includes Chiefs back Tim Nanai-Williams who is pushing for his eligibility through the Sevens loophole.

Nanai-Williams has been included but will need to play in at least 2 Rounds of the Sevens World Series for Samoa to be eligible for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Rugby World Cup in England later this year.

Other notable inclusions in the squad are Newcastle flyer Sinoti Sinoti, Bordeaux’s Peter Saili, Sharks’ Paul Perez, former Stormer and current Wasps wing Sailosi Tagicakibau, Alesana Tuilagi – brother of Manu, former Waratahs wing Alofa Alofa and Hurricanes centre Reynold Lee Lo.

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BlitzbokkeThe BlitzBokke have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming Glasgow leg of the HSBS Sevens World Series as they face their toughest challenge yet in pursuit of being crowned World Sevens Series champions.

Neil Powell’s men hold a slender 4 point lead over Fiji on the overall log standings ahead of the Glasgow showpiece and he knows that the focus needs to remain on the task at hand and not the permutations regarding the overall Series.

It will not be an easy task though as they will have to get through a tough pool that sees them being drawn alongside 3rd-placed New Zealand, Samoa and Kenya.

“It is definitely going to be a tough pool – and tournament – but if you want to be the best in the world, you need to beat everybody. The key to our success will be to remain focused on our processes and to make sure we do the right things on the field. If we can do that, the result will take care of itself.

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Kieran Read

Kieran Read

Kieran Read has changed his mind and declined the opportunity to play at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

All Black superstar Read initially had his mind set on joining the New Zealand Sevens team to play in the Brazil Olympic Games, but after lengthy talks with All Black coach Steve Hanson, he has opted to concentrate on the 15-man game.

Read’s decision not to chase an Olympic medal, would have also been a relief for Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

Super Rugby players who elect to play the shorter version of the game are expected to miss approximately 6 Rounds of the competition, meaning Blackadder would have been without his skillful skipper for a 3rd of the Super Rugby season if he had chosen to play Sevens.

“I was keen to go Rio but I won’t be,” Read said at the Crusaders training session on Wednesday.

“It would be a hell of an opportunity but I will probably focus on making the All Blacks team.”

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