Your guide to the Rugby Sevens draw
Known and loved for its fast pace and unpredictability, the GC2018 Rugby Sevens competition is set to be competitive and cutthroat, with the draw announced on Thursday.
Overseen and sanctioned by World Rugby representatives, the men’s and women’s teams now know who they’ll have to overcome to secure a position in the finals.
The men’s competition format is especially ruthless. Following the preliminary rounds, only the top team in each of the four pools will progress to the semifinals and have a chance to play for medals.
The top four ranked teams were allocated the top spot in each pool, with random draws conducted for each band of four teams (5-6, 9-12 and 13-15) based on their current World Rugby rankings.
Australia was drawn into Pool B along with England, Samoa and Jamaica.
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Ed Jenkins retired just two weeks ago, but will be watching in the stands come April, with the draw setting the stage for a great competition.
“I thought probably the best outcome for us was to be in Pool B with England,” Jenkins said.
“But then when that third line was drawn and we drew Samoa, that was probably a dark horse you don’t want to be coming up against so it’s a tough pool and only one will go through.
“It’s going to be some exciting games in that pool and it looks like exciting games in every pool.”
Australian men’s captain, Lewis Holland, agreed there would be some tight competition from 13-15 April.
The Australian men displayed great form at the Sydney Sevens world series tournament in late January, winning their first Cup final in six years and beating the top ranked team, South Africa 29-0.
Despite their recent success, the cutthroat nature of the competition leaves no room for error. They’ll be up against some tough teams who are also set to enter the competition match-fit and hungry for medals.
“If you look at the form that Canada has been in lately, they’ll be a strong outfit, Kenya as well, they can show up and put some teams under pressure and they’re fit and strong and fast so they’re much like the Fijians just with a little bit less flair but their size and physicality and speed is pretty good,” Holland said.
“Then you’ve got the likes of Scotland as well, they’ve been stringing together some great performances so they’ll test South Africa but Wales and Fiji always seem to be a tight game whenever those two contest as well. Much like the World Series anyone can come out on top there so they will be exciting games.”
The top-ranked nation, South Africa, will compete in Pool C against Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. New Zealand and Canada are strong contenders in Pool C with Kenya and Zambia, and Fiji, Wales, Uganda and Sri Lanka complete Pool D.
Papua New Guinea
In the women’s competition, the eight teams were split into two pools, with the two top-ranked teams, New Zealand and Australia, allocated to each pool. Random draws were conducted for each band of two teams (3-4, 5-6 and 7-8).
After the preliminary matches, the top two teams from each pool will progress to the semifinals and play for medals.
The Australian women’s team was drawn into Pool B. They smashed the record books a week ago at the Sydney Sevens, becoming the first team to go through a world series tournament without conceding a single point.
Australian rugby sevens player Charlotte Caslick was happy to avoid Canada in the preliminary rounds, but anticipated tough competition from the other teams in Pool B – Wales, Fiji and England.
The team could meet the top-ranked New Zealand in the semifinal rounds, who will be seeking redemption after losing to Australia in Rio 2016 Olympics final and the Sydney Sevens.
New Zealand will face Canada, South Africa and Kenya in Pool A.
“I think after Sydney [Sevens], New Zealand will be coming out firing for the Comm Games, they’ll definitely want to get one back on us and they’re always such tough competition,” Caslick said.
The Fiji and Wales rugby sevens teams attended the draw at Robina Stadium, and Fijian captain Ana Maria Roqica and Welsh captain Sian Williams described the pool as tough but exciting.
Williams was pleased to see neighbours England in the pool but revealed it would be a busy two weeks for Team Wales, with the world series qualifiers scheduled to take place right before the Games.
“It’s a tough pool, there are three teams with a lot of world series experience and we’re a team that’s striving to be a world series team,” Williams said.
“We’ve got the world series qualifiers the week before the Commonwealth Games so it’s going to be a tough two weeks but we’re excited, we know a lot about England so it’s good to see them in our group and see what we can do.
The preliminary rounds will be a round-robin format, with each team playing the other teams in their pool once. The semifinals, gold and bronze medal matches will be played on the final day of GC2018, Sunday 15 April.