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What the Commonwealth Games Tells Us About the LA Sevens

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What the Commonwealth Games Tells Us About the LA Sevens

South Africa vs Canada at the Commonwealth Games. Ian Muir photo.

The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England gave us a little taste of where some of the teams are going into the LA Sevens this month.

Blitzbokke Are Back

After a bit of a slump in the World Series, South Africa seem to be back on form after hammering Fiji 31-7 in the final.

Muller Du Plessis scored two tries in the final but it was really their team defense and Angelo Davids' scoring touch that saw them through. Davids scored 10 tries in the tournament, including three hat tricks. The most important was their 24-12 dismissal of Australia in the semis. Throughout the tournament South Africa made scoring on them very difficult. They ended up outscoring their six opponents (Malaysia, Tonga, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Fiji) 204-24, allowing more than one try only once—that semi vs. Australia.

Does this mean the team that won four tournaments in a row before failing to make the top four in the next quartet of World Series events is back? You bet it does.

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Contenders Abound

Fiji made the final but had to fight for it. They looked very vulnerable against Canada and against Wales, but started to piece it all together by the second day. Their 19-14 win over New Zealand in the semifinals was always going to be a tough one. Overall it was a good tournament from the Fijians, but if they want to win the World Series—which they can if they do well in LA—they need to be more consistent.

New Zealand had that really weird game against Samoa in which they fell behind 17-0 only to come back to win 19-17. Starting with the second half kickoff of that game, they went on a 70-0 tear through two and-a-half games before the semifinal loss to Fiji. After that was perhaps their best game, a 26-12 defeat of Australia for 3rd. The All Black 7s cannot win the World Series, but can they win LA? Certainly.

Samoa lost only twice, 19-17 to New Zealand and 7-0 to Australia. A little more precision and time together and they could be a dark horse in LA. Finishing 5th in Birmingham isn't bad at all. 

Something to Take Away

Canada has really struggled in the World Series this year, finishing last twice and in the bottom four two other times as well. At the Commonwealth Games the Canadians often rediscover their nothing-to-lose attitude and did relatively well. Yes they were 2-3, but that included an impressive 31-0 shutout of Wales. And they were only really overwhelmed once, 33-0 to eventual champions South Africa. Their results against Fili (19-12) and Samoa (19-17) show they aren't far away.

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The same could generally be said of Kenya, who beat a tough Uganda side and hammered Jamaica, and then were pipped by the Aussies 7-5. Day Two wasn't kind to them, but Kenya, which has finished last three times in a row coming into the LA Sevens, might, with their vocal crowd support, be a bit stronger this time around.