Much at Stake at LA 7s in August
Much at Stake at LA 7s in August
The LA 7s kicks off August 27 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. and this tournament settles a lot of questions.
We learn who wins the tournament, of course, but seeing as this is the final tournament of the 2022 HSBC Sevens World Series, we also find out the Men's champion (Australia clinched the women's title in May in Toulouse), as well as the season's Dream Team, and the other award-winners.
The LA 7s will be held August 27 and 28 at Dignity Health Sports Park with an upgraded Festival and the LA Invitational at the DHSP complex. For tickets, go here >>
The HSBC Sevens World Series sees 7-a-side rugby teams from nations all over the globe play in a series of tournaments around the world. The USA stop on that tour has usually been held in late- or mid-February. But a shift in the schedule forced by COVID restrictions in various countries pushed the LA 7s to August. COVID also led to a change in the scoring. Normally teams earn points in every tournament and the Series champion is decided by the most total points. But with some teams unable to play in every tournament, this year sees the Series winner decided by the best seven our of nine tournaments.
So if you have a couple of iffy weekends, you can toss those results aside.
Through the first four of the nine-tournament season, South Africa seemed in complete control, winning all four tournaments to get the maximum 88 points from those events.
But since then the Blitzboks have faltered, with an 11th-place finish in Toulouse their low water mark. While they can not count that five-point effort, they will have to count their 7th-place 10 points in Singapore ... unless they do better in LA.
When one door closes another one opens. Australia, which trailed South Africa by 22 points 88-66 after four tournaments, logged two third-place finishes and a tournament win in London to come within two points leading into LA. South Africa lead the standings with 124 points, and Australia has 122. Right behind them is Argentina at 118 points. Enjoying their most consistently strong season ever, the Pumas have logged three third-place finishes, a second-place finish, and a tournament victory in Vancouver.
All three of those teams could win.
If South Africa makes the final in LA, they will have clinched the World Series title. If they finish third and Australia takes 1st in LA, then the teams will tie on points. The winner will be decided by series-wide point differential, which would favor South Africa as they lead Australia and Argentina both by more than 150 points, which is a fairly unassailable lead.
If the Blitzboks finish 4th or lower they can be caught by Australia.
Now, here's where the "best seven our of nine" bit factors in. A team's second-worst finish is what they want to be able to throw away. For Argentina, that's 13 points (5th). So if they win in LA they can only add nine points to their total of 118. To win the Series then, Argentina would probably need to win and would also need South Africa to fail to make the quarterfinals and for Australia to fail to make the semis.
Fiji, meanwhile, despite currently being 14 points behind Argentina, has a last-place finish to throw away, meaning if they win the tournament, they can add 21 points to their total. So if Australia finishes 4th or lower, and South Africa finishes 7th or lower, Fiji can leap from 4th to 1st. Because of the system of leaving aside your two worst tournaments, Fiji is actually in a slightly better position to win the World Series than Argentina.
There's still plenty to play for with the other nations. Upstarts Ireland sit 5th and while they can't move up, they could be caught by the USA, which has more leeway on points. And the Eagles will need to perform will to keep their 6th place, because a solid showing by France, and also by England (who have a 13th-place finish in Dubai they would love to toss aside).
So it's a lot of math, but it's also emotion. If you can jump past two or three teams in the final tournament, that's a massive boost going into the Rugby World Cup 7s in Cape Town in September.
So yes, a tournament trophy, the World Series championship, and a launching pad to the World Cup all go through LA in August.
(GRR and World Rugby contributed to this article)