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All Blacks Sevens drawn in Perth SVNS pool of death with rivals Fiji

By Finn Morton
Akuila Rokolisoa of New Zealand reacts to scoring a try during the Men's Cup Semifinal match between New Zealand and South Africa on Day Two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Dubai at The Sevens Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

Searching for their first Cup final appearance of the 2023/24 SVNS Series, the All Blacks Sevens will have their work cut out for them in Perth after being drawn in a pool of death alongside familiar foes.

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New Zealand have been drawn into a tough group for the event from January 26 to 28 alongside traditional heavyweights Fiji, and Olympic-qualified nations France and Samoa.

The All Blacks Sevens currently sit fourth in the overall standings after making the semi-finals in Dubai and sneaking into the quarter-finals last time out in Cape Town.

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Dubai SVNS wooden spooners Canada registered one of the upsets of the season in the Western Cape with a win over New Zealand, and another loss to Samoa saw the Kiwis finish third.

While the men in black were able to “finish on a high” with a dominant win over hosts the Blitzboks in the fifth-place playoff, but they’ll need to be a whole lot better across the ditch in Australia.

The Black Ferns Sevens had also been drawn in a tough pool of their own as they look to bounce back from a surprising defeat to France in the Cape Town SVNS semis last month.

New Zealand will take on Pool C rivals the United States, Ireland and Spain in what’s expected to be hot and humid conditions along the west coast of Australia.

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Both New Zealand teams carry the ‘defending champions’ tag into the Australia leg of the SVNS Series after taking out Cup final glory 12 months ago in Sydney.

As for their arch-rivals across the Tasman, the Australian women’s side will look to make it three from three when they take the field in front of their home fans this month.

Australia defeated New Zealand in the Dubai SVNS final and backed that up with more silverware in Cape Town – a dream start to the season for the Aussie women’s side.

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But after falling short of expectations 12 months ago at the Sydney Sevens, the Aussies will be sure not to take anyone lightly at HBF Park.

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Australia will face Canada, Great Britain and newly promoted South Africa in pool A.

“We’re actually on field training now and I just announced it to the girls,” coach Tim Walsh told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s fresh. We haven’t played those teams in a while so we’re excited and we know how strong they are, particularly Canada, they’re a fastly improving team so they’re very much a team to watch out for.

“They’re good. They’ve had a nice break and refreshed but came back physically and mentally ready to go,” Walsh added.

“We’ve had a good week and a half training.

“We did unfortunately get an injury in Cape Town. Demi Hayes, she’ll be on the sideline for quite a while.

“Other than that we’re at good fitness and a really good group to be able to select a really strong team.”

As for the Australian men’s side – who were beaten by Argentina in the Cape Town SVNS final – they’ll face Ireland, Great Britain and Spain in what should be a very interesting pool.

Tickets are on sale for the upcoming Perth SVNS at HBF Park and can be bought HERE.

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finn 15 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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