Bok 7s face tough Dubai draw
Cape Town - Defending champions South Africa were handed a tough task when the International Rugby Board announced the pools draw for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on Monday.
The Springbok Sevens will attempt to achieve back-to-back titles in Dubai when the IRB Sevens World Series kicks off on 4-5 December in the popular desert city.
South Africa, who last season won the world championship for the first time, face men’s Sevens World Champions Wales, as well as Australia and the hosts Arabian Gulf, in Pool A.
Fiji head Pool B and will face Samoa, Scotland and Zimbabwe. England are the top-seeds in Pool C which also features Kenya, USA and Russia, while New Zealand are top-ranked in Pool D, where Argentina, Portugal and France complete the group.
Paul Treu’s team start as the top seeds in an ultra-competitive international draw, which features 16 nations from five different continents.
Treu said in reaction to the draw that his team was looking forward to another visit to Dubai. “We have managed to won there on three occasions – 2003, 2006 and 2008 – and Dubai has over the years proved to be a happy hunting ground for us.
“We also seem to attract good support and the playing surface really suits our style of play and are therefore looking forward to hopefully getting our World Series defence off to a good start,” said Treu.
The South African coach however warned that this year’s Dubai Sevens promises to be the toughest tournament yet.
“My understanding is that most of the teams have started much earlier with their preparations. Also, most of the top teams have managed to keep the same players and management, which means that there will be a greater continuity and, of course, a much higher standard of competitiveness.
“Wales will be buoyed by their World Cup success in March in Dubai while Australia are easily the team that improved the most the past season,” added Treu.
With just four days to go until the IOC votes to decide whether Rugby Sevens will be included in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the IRB also announced that a strong international field has entered the women’s tournament in Dubai.
The SA Women Sevens team, who performed so admirably at the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup earlier in Dubai, will return to the same venue to compete against Brazil, Thailand, Span, USA, Russia and Georgia.
Meanwhile, the Springbok Sevens continued their pre-season training with another series of fitness tests at the Sports Science Institute in Newlands. Treu invited three more promising youngsters to the tests, Bernard le Roux (Border) as well as Worcester schoolboys Deon Swarts and Ambrose Steyn.