IRB to tweak Sevens seedings

2011-06-02 17:31

Brenden Nel - SuperSport

Johannesburg - The International Rugby Board's World Sevens Series is in for a massive shake-up after a groundbreaking meeting held in Edinburgh last week where teams unanimously voted to change the seeding system.

The current system, where teams are ranked on past performances taken on their last two tournaments, has seen certain sides favoured in tournament draws, to the detriment of others.

Some, like the Blitzbokke and Fiji have been drawn to face each other no less than six times in 10 tournaments in quarter-finals, while other sides like champions New Zealand and England consistently avoid tough draws in the series.

The current system has perhaps unwittingly favoured sides that do well in the opening two legs of the competition - Dubai and George - but with the IRB looking at a total revamp to the Sevens series - the relook at the seeding system is a necessary change to level the playing field.

At the meeting - attended by the 12 core teams on the Sevens circuit - it was decided that the draw for tournaments in future would be done after every tournament, based on the most recent results, something that will shake up the series and allow for teams with consistency to gain momentum and get good draws.

Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu told he was positive about the moves, especially after the draws they had had in 2010.

"The proposals have now been given in and hopefully the new model will be accepted in time for the first tournament of the 2011/12 season on the Gold Coast in Australia," said Treu.

"It will be very beneficial in the long run, because now it's been the case that if you do well in the first two tournaments, you get good draws until the end."

South Africa faced Fiji six times in quarter-finals and were consistently drawn to face Australia, Samoa or Fiji in pool games. New Zealand and England on the other hand, avoided the South Pacific teams in almost every tournament.

Samoa, for instance, were in one final in this year's Series, but were second going into England, while the Blitzbokke were in two, but were fourth.

Ironically the two teams in South Africa's pool in London and Edinburgh - Fiji and Australia - were also their final opponents in the last two tournaments, showing how the strong teams could be concentrated.

"The new proposal will reward consistency, and if you win a tournament, you will get a better draw for the next one, which is fair," Treu added.

While it has still to be confirmed, it seems the opening leg will be a three week, three tournament affair, with the Gold Coast Sevens being followed by Dubai and newcomers Port Elizabeth.

There are suggestions Tokyo will be added to the roster in 2011/12 and a South American venue the year after.