GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Unpredictable Men's World Series Unprecedented

irish rugby tours

Unpredictable Men's World Series Unprecedented

Stephen Tomasin ponders a game in Sydney. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

Well we almost predicted it.

Goofing around with the Men’s World Series Standings we speculated that we might see all of the top teams tied … or at least most within a point of each other.

That second scenario is basically happening. 

Yes New Zealand has emerged as the clear leader. The All Blacks 7s didn’t win a tournament until this past weekend in Sydney, but they’ve been consistently strong and in this season when there’s a new tournament winner every week (have a look, it’s true: Australia then South African then Samoa then Argentina then New Zealand), making the final regularly is enough.

South Africa has made two finals and one fourth place, but that’s enough for second by a considerable margin. Considerable in 2023 terms, which is eight points after five tournaments. In 2022. New Zealand leads RSA by nine points. Compare that to 2022, where after five tournaments the leading nation (South Africa) had a 16-point cushion over #2. Sure, #2 and #3 were tied in points, but the gap to #4 was 16 points.

So the gap from 1st to 4th was 31 points.

Now?  Only a 27-point gap separates 1st from … 9th. And given that the leader after five in 2022 didn’t even win the World Series, what is going to happen this time?

As we wrote last week: Eagle Men Consistent, But Need Separation

“If the Eagles repeat their worst finish of the season, 6th, in Sydney, they might only slip one or two places, but fully five teams could be within a point of them in the standings.”

The Eagles did worse than that, finishing 11th after a wholly predictable Argentine comeback (when a team is known for kicking, maybe you should be ready for them to kick … just sayin’). They slipped to 7th, but are within a point of Argentina and Fiji, and two points of France and Samoa. 

Tickets on Sale for LA Sevens>>

And that's because everyone has been up and down. Well, just about everyone. If you are near the top one week, there's a good chance you crash a little a week later. See our handy graph.

It’s crazy. We’ve never seen the World Series this close. And it is one of the many reasons why you should go to the LA Sevens in February. Last LA Sevens, last August, saw the tournament end, with South Africa getting dumped out of 1st and Australia leaping in to win the Series. Amazing. It’s going to happen again in some ways next month. Because Samoa and France are on 68 points, Fiji and Argentina are on 67, and the USA is on 66, someone is going to bounce up out of that group. One of those will finish at least 3rd, and potentially win LA, and someone is going to struggle.

How Will The USA Do?

They clearly looked a big gassed in Sydney, the shift in time zones and game times mattered. The knockout rounds in Hamilton were played from around 1PM to 10PM Pacific Time (where the USA players live). In Sydney, despite just a two-hour difference, the heat pushed games later in the day and knockout rounds were played later in the Pacific Time evening and into the early morning.

So it plays with the circadian rhythms. 

All that is to say that playing at home should be better for this still-learning USA team.

At the same time, they missed Perry Baker, who picked up an injury during Sydney, who is a steadying influence out wide. They need work on their restarts. They need to speed up their attack on penalties (more taps, fewer scrums), and it’s fair to say that one of Argentina’s tries was quite the fluke.

The worrying results were more the losses to Samoa and Ireland, where the Eagles were just slow to get to the ball, and didn’t execute some basic skills. You don’t just forget to ruck, so our assessment is fatigue. Go home, rest up, regroup, and play at home.

Tickets on Sale for LA Sevens>>

Look for the Eagles to make a move upward.