Glasgow 2014 – Let the Games Begin
The opening ceremony for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games is tonight, July 23rd, and it’ll be the biggest Games for Rugby yet. With Sevens now part of the Olympic schedule, the popularity of the sport has never been higher and neither has the pressure. The games will take place over the weekend with a gold medal winning team being crowned by Sunday night. 4 time gold winners, New Zealand, are of course favourites to win but if we have a look at the pools we can see it might not be as cut and dry as that.
World Class Rugby 7s
Commonwealth Games Rugby 7s Pools
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C||Pool D|
|New Zealand||South Africa||Samoa||England|
|Scotland||Cook Islands||Papua New Guinea||Sri Lanka|
|Barbados||Trinidad and Tobago||Malaysia||Uganda|
9 out of the 16 teams competing in Commonwealth games feature in the top 12 Teams in the HSBC Sevens World Series, meaning that we will be seeing some fierce competition throughout the weekend. Which groups are the toughest and who will come out on top? What will the best matches be? See rugbystore.co.uk’s predictions for each table below:
Sevens World Series Rankings
Pool A – New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, Barbados
Group Difficulty: 9/10 – Clearly the most competitive group. Had this years Commonwealth Games been held outside Scotland it may not have looked so daunting but never underestimate the power of a home crowd. Having the champions of pretty much every code of rugby in the group also makes this a slight challenge for the other teams. New Zealand we mean, not Barbados.
Bottom of Group: Barbados will inevitably fall comfortably into 4th place. Bookies have them at 100/1 to win the group, even with those odds it’s ill advised to put a pound on.
Must Watch Match: Scotland v Canada – This is already set to be a close call and assuming they both beat Barbados and lose to New Zealand, this will decide the crucial second spot to qualify for the next round. (And watch out for this guy)
Qualifying Teams: New Zealand and Scotland – Although the SCOvCAN game is a close call, the home advantage should see the host nation through.
Pool B – South Africa, Kenya, Cook Islands, Trinidad and Tobago
Group Difficulty: 5/10 Although their is always potential for slip ups and upsets this group looks fairly straight forward for the well practiced 7s teams here.
Bottom of Group: This will come down to the Cook Islands v Trinidad and Tobago tie but we expect Cook Islands, being the slightly more experienced side to avoid 4th place.
Must Watch Match: South Africa V Kenya – Although the odds are certainly in the Boks favour (1/20 to win group) Kenya are not a side to underestimate. They will be trying very hard to get to play a runner up team next round as the competition heats up.
Qualifying Teams: South Africa and Kenya.
Pool C – Samoa, Wales, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia
Group Difficulty: 7/10 This group could be closer than it initially looks. Certainly competitive between the two favourite Wales and Samoa. Wales seemed to be dogged by bad luck in the run up to the games losing several key athletes to injury before the games began. Could that luck follow the Welsh side onto the pitch?
Bottom of Group: Malaysia. In the last Commonwealth games this team failed to win a game and sadly don’t look set to change anything this time round.
Must Watch Match: Wales v Samoa – Wales will be raring to go here to gain that all important top spot but will they be able to overcome the giant Samoans?
Qualifying Teams: Samoa and….. Papa New Guinea – Although Wales will be expected to secure second place, in Delhi, Papa New Guinea went on to beat Sri Lanka, Tonga and Canada to win the Bowl. They are fighters and will be aiming to qualify this time round.
Pool D – England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Uganda
Group Difficulty: 6/10 Like most of the groups this one looks pretty clear cut and it’ll be the exact order or the teams that’ll be interesting.
Bottom of Group: Sri Lanka. A bad record in previous tournaments makes Sri Lanka our favourites for fourth place.
Must Watch Match: Australia V England – Sure to be a great match, both teams are contenders to win the tournament and are tight in the World rankings. We’d think England will grasp it with the huge fan base that will have travelled North to support Team England.
Qualifying Teams: England and Australia.
After the Pools the whole competition will be very tight. Each team that we predict to qualify all have a shot to win. Who do you think will go the whole way and get gold? Any upsets in the groups you see coming? Let us know in the comments.
All images courtesy of David Gibson @ Fotosport