It's time for South Africa to prove they're no flash in the pan
It’s been over two years since New Zealand, the former superpowers of rugby sevens, participated in a World Series competition.
With the global pandemic making travel nigh impossible for Kiwis, the All Blacks Sevens side has remained noticeably absent from the circuit since securing first place at the end of the 2019-2020 event. That victory delivered their first title in six years after being crowned champions at 12 of the first 15 events since the World Series was conceived back in 1999.
In New Zealand’s absence, South Africa have reigned supreme.
The Blitzbokke were undefeated in the two tournaments that made up the 2021 series while they’re also yet to drop a match in the current circuit, which kicked off late last year with four events in Dubai and Spain.
After their two-year absence from the game, however, the All Blacks Sevens will make their long-awaited reappearance this weekend when the Singapore Sevens get underway on 9 April – which means South Africa might finally have a challenge on their hands.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 4, 2022
Samoa, themselves a former superpower of the contracted game, will also make their first appearance since the 2019-2020 competition while Fiji will be back on deck after missing the last two events, as well as last year’s circuit in its entirety.
The additions of NZ, Samoa and Fiji means the Singapore Sevens will, in effect, be the first World Series event that actually lives up to its name since the global pandemic first reared its head.
While it would be impossible to undermine the impressive performances of the Blitzbokke in the long-running absence of their fiercest rivals, this weekend’s tournament now gives South Africa the opportunity to prove that their title last year was no fluke.
New Zealand and Fiji, meanwhile, will be out to remind the world that the Blitzbokke were just keeping their seats warm.
While form and performance can fluctuate from week to week and competition to competition, it’s worth looking back at last year’s re-scheduled Olympics Games to get a feel for how the three top sides in the world might fair in Singapore.
Although South Africa topped their pool at the event, they were hounded out of the tournament in the quarter-finals by Argentina, while New Zealand and Fiji went on to duke it out in the final. Fiji eventually emerged victorious, claiming a 27-12 victory as well as a gold medal.
The Olympics always reigns supreme, of course, but the Singapore Sevens now presents the opportunity for New Zealand to bounce back from that heart-breaking loss in Tokyo and reassert their place in the world.
Of course, Fiji and South Africa aren’t going to go down without a fight.
All four nations have been separated into different pools for the Singapore Sevens but will invariably meet during the knockout stages of the competition.
For the nation of Singapore, the tournament will also be a rebirth of sorts with the Asian metropolis missing out on hosting opportunities last year. In fact, the Singapore Sevens will be the first major event hosted in the country after Singapore announced an ease on restrictions, with food and drinks (including alcohol) available on site.
Dubbed the ‘Family Sevens’, there will also be plenty of action taking place off the field in Singapore with bouncy castles and movie screenings on hand to keep the slightly less rugby-obsessed fans entertained throughout the two-day event while local band Jive Talkin’ and Zouk DJ Jeremy Boon will also be performing.
The Singapore Sevens are set to run from April 9th to April 10th, with tickets selling fast. Fans who are eager to catch the first sight of the New Zealand national side at a World Series event since 2020 – and see if they can wrestle the crown back off South Africa’s Blitzbokke should visit http://www.singapore7s.com.sg/tickets
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