The opening leg of the 2019-20 World Sevens Series in Dubai will be the start of a big year in Sevens.
With the Tokyo Olympics coming next year, there isn’t a single competitive team out there that won’t want to build some early momentum and get off to the best possible start.
Eight games will be played today, and while there is probably no such thing as a boring game of Sevens, here are four games that are almost guaranteed to do a little bit more and get you into the Sevens spirit, if you aren’t already.
New Zealand vs Wales (3.28pm)
New Zealand will want to defend their Dubai title with intent, there can be no doubt about that. They are the favourites going into this game against a Welsh side that finished a lowly 14th on the series standings last season, but don’t think the men in red won’t be on a mission as well.
The Welsh players will certainly want to go out and impress as they will have an eye on selection for the Great Britain team for the Tokyo Games. Motivation loading.
Fiji vs Japan (5.02pm)
This certainly can’t be called a clash of the titans seeing as Japan aren’t exactly trendsetters on the circuit, but looking at some of their players, they definitely will be able to add some excitement. It’s highly unlikely that the offloading-savvy Fijian giants will be upset by Japan, but as many a Sevens game has taught us, sometimes you just never really know (remember their last-gasp victory over New Zealand at the Oceania Sevens in Fiji?).
The fact that the Rugby World Cup was such a hit should certainly have boosted the game’s appeal in Japan, how could it not, and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that some of that enthusiasm has spilled into the Sevens side of things as well.
Fiji will probably make a proper statement on day one, but Japan will be anything but boring.
The Blitzboks have welcomed back a number of experienced players for the Dubai and Cape Town legs, with Dylan Sage, Ruhan Nel, Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman all set to feature for Neil Powell’s team before they head back to their franchises for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
In addition to that, they also have enough young, exciting players to make any team as green as the SA jersey with envy.
Kenya, though, are no minnows, and they’ve shown quite a few times before that they know how to slay huge Sevens dragons just ask Fiji, or even the Blitzboks themselves.