The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens lived up once again to its sobriquet of the “Surprise Sevens” as England and Australia upset the formbook to top Pools B and D respectively after day one.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series heavyweights Fiji and South Africa continued their impressive runs on this season’s circuit after topping their pools to set up some compelling Cup quarterfinals tomorrow.
Australia impressed on their first outing under new coach Tim Walsh as they toppled Scotland 24-20 in the opener, before turning in the day’s biggest surprise result, beating Commonwealth Games gold medallists New Zealand 19-12 in the preliminaries.
Australia will face another surprise packet in Spain, who reached their second straight cup quarterfinal after achieving the feat in Hong Kong earlier this month.
England beat Kenya, cup finalists in Hong Kong, 28-19, and the USA, 19-14, to set up a cup quarterfinal meeting with Samoa tomorrow at 13.36.
Fiji picked up momentum throughout the afternoon to advance to a cup quarterfinal with New Zealand.
“We were a bit scrappy on times, and not accurate in a couple of areas of the game that we know you have to be to win tournaments like this, but we have been in the past, so there is nothing to panic about. We just lost a bit of focus and concentration at times,” said coach Gareth Baber.
“We’ve come through and scored points well and haven’t conceded a huge amount, and I thought we showed some good character, especially in that last game [33-5 over Spain]. Spain are a good side. They came out against us in the last two or three minutes but we kept them out and scored the other side, so I need to see more of that tomorrow.”
“I’ve watched them today. New Zealand have done well. They always are going to do well. They got beat by Australia but Australia played very well today. They were at every team they played against and we will have to do a lot of that tomorrow as well against New Zealand,” Baber added.
South Africa coach Neil Powell was also pleased with the way his side progressed through to their quarterfinal against Kenya.
“I’m happy with our performance, especially with how the guys held up in our defensive system. We can definitely make a step up a bit more in attack as I felt that once or twice we had a few unforced errors that lost us ball possession.
Powell was further pleased with the performance of some of his youngsters who appeared in Hong Kong earlier this month.
“I’m pleased that the youngsters backed up their performance from Hong Kong with another good one on day one. Hopefully they can take that into day two,” Powell added.
South Africa will need his tyros to step after losing veterans Kyle Brown and Rosko Specman to injury in the opening round.
“It is a bit of a concern losing Kyle and Rosko, that is a lot of experience for us, but it is a great test and opportunity for the youngsters to put their hands up and show they want to be a part of this team in the future,” Powell added.
Tomorrow’s Challenge Trophy quarterfinals see Japan face Wales, Canada take on France, Scotland play Russia and United States face off again with American rivals Argentina.
The 20,000 square feet FunZone at the 100Plus Promenade provided as much excitement as the fast-and-furious rugby action on the pitch with appearances by The Transformers, Nerf, and My Little Pony bringing big smiles to kids and adults alike.
Spartan Singapore and Strider Bikes gave plenty of opportunities for the energetic youngsters to enjoy a great workout before settling into the arena to enjoy sevens rugby.
Four highly popular local bands – Jack & Rai, Jive Talkin’, Samabamasala, and Too Much Drama – got the fans moving in every corner of the stadium.
Legendary American disco band Village People leads a number of reasons why day two of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens is not to be missed.