South Africa 7s handed tough home draw
October 9, 2008
New Zealand celebrate winning the South Africa Sevens crown last year © Getty Images
Hosts South Africa have been handed a tough assignment on day one of the South Africa Sevens in George, the second event in the 2008/09 IRB Sevens World Series.
The Outeniqua Park stadium in George will again provide the stage for two days of international Sevens rugby on 5-6 December, one week after the Series kicks off in Dubai, and the Boks will need every decibel of home support.
After finishing the 2007/08 season in second place behind champions New Zealand, hosts South Africa are named second seeds and top pool B, where they face a tough set of matches on day one. SANZAR rivals Australia are sure to provide a stern test under new coach Michael O'Connor, the USA will be out to repeat their Cup quarter final appearance of last season and European side Georgia also have much Sevens experience.
Defending George champions New Zealand again top the seeds and lead the charge from Pool A, where they face unpredictable opposition in England and France as well as Africa 3, the third-placed African qualifier for next year's Sevens World Cup, to be decided in Tunisia in early November.
Fiji top Pool C and face Argentina, Scotland and Africa 2, while fourth seeds Samoa lead an ultra competitive Pool D featuring Kenya, Wales and Portugal.
"The George field this year is sure to be hyper-competitive as the sides hone in on the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai next March," said IRB Tournaments Director Beth Coalter.
"All twelve core teams are capable of beating each other and the two African sides yet to be named will no doubt be battle-hardened and Sevens sharp after their World Cup qualifiers in Tunisia.
"George is always an interesting Tournament as the team who won the weekend before in Dubai is keen to establish a strong start to the new Series ahead of New Zealand and San Diego in February. The World Cup will just increase that desire for momentum," added Coalter.
Pool A: New Zealand, England, France, Africa 3
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength