Gold Coast Sevens wrap up – UR7’s

From UR7s Curtis Ambrose NZ7s What a weekend it was in Gold Coast. After a start which saw the big names put up some big scores on Day One, the tournament then exploded towards the latter end of Saturday and all day on Sunday. The quality of the competition especially in the Cup on Day Two was the highest that I have seen at the first tournament of the season in all the years of the series which bodes well for the rest of the season. This year we will be reviving our Power Rankings article aiming to start some discussion between fans. We will almost certainly not agree with one another. Remember the caveats, the final finishing position of teams does not make a difference, think of it in a way that if a tournament started today who do we think are in the best position to win the tournament and ranking them in that order. Injuries and momentum are being taken into account, a performance on the first day may have meant that sides finished in the Bowl but the Day Two performance showed them to be a real force. The rankings also take into affect, who we think would win in a match if it took place today. So 1 would beat 2, 2 would beat 3 etc...that might not go with what actually happened at the weekend but that's part of the fun. 1. New Zealand The All Blacks are currently irrepressible. I said in commentary over the weekend, the form and consistency in performance at the moment puts them in the same breath as the All Blacks XVs, Miami Heat, Barcelona and Bayern Munich even Usain Bolt. They are right up there as one of the best sporting sides in the world. 2. Australia Michael O'Connor had the right mix of power, speed and brains this weekend and that has not always been the case with his young charges. The jury is out on whether they can do it consistently but with Jenkins, Stannard and Walker his has the nucleus for a world class side surrounded by youthful exuberance. They will be tough to beat. 3. England Simon Amor had a great first tournament in charge. England scored at ease against a spent South Africa but it was the performance in a losing effort against New Zealand that will have boosted confidence. Defense looked good but there are issues about offense. Dan Norton was defended well this weekend, the midfield now needs to be more of a threat to both take advantage and keep the defense honest. 4. Fiji The Fijians actually finished 5th in Australia but bar a blunt performance against England and Wales they also looked superb at times blowing away Kenya and Samoa on Day Two. That of course sounds like old school Fiji, brilliant or broken and that is what Ben Ryan will be addressing. Fitness is an issue for the side at the moment but talent is not, Ben Ryan will have been excited to see the players at this disposal. Masilevu and Tinai were just untouchable at times. 5. South Africa The Boks were brilliant on Day One but once again a couple of injuries saw them regress slightly on Day Two. They were part of a fantastic match against Australia in the semi-final and they defended magnificently. There were some issues going forward as scores were individual and Australia should have put them away earlier. The side was spent in the 3rd place game against England. Missed Du Preez and worrying the difference the Brown makes when not playing, and he has a tendency not to be. 6. Wales Wales lost to Kenya in the Plate Semi-Finals after some fantastic defensive organisation from the Kenyans saw the Welsh become quite narrow. Wales' winger Chris Knight was a revelation, showing himself to be the player that he is expected to be. The Welsh side captain Adam Thomas and senior players Williams and Shellard will know they need to sharpen up in attack but that there were no glaring issues with the side, just some things for Paul John to iron out and it will come. Wales own the 6 spot in these rankings at the moment. 7. Kenya The Kenyans appear to still be Kenya. Brilliant when under no real pressure, performing within their structures and taking advantage of physical mismatches. When the pressure is on though and up against World Class opposition, Kenya come up short. Convincingly beaten by New Zealand on Day One and thrashed by Fiji on Day Two and in both of the games, the Kenyan defense stood off, turned their hips and the let the attack come. Kenya are still susceptible to letting sides score often and early and put themselves out of the game. Kenya conceded over 30+ to nil on 2 occassions over the weekend. This needs to be looked at to rise up through these rankings. Remember the Power Ranking rules and we feel if there was a game today, Wales would beat Kenya. 8. France I really thought I would be ranking Canada here bar the extra-time heroics of the French. France have issues in the way they are set up to play and missed Bouhraoua this weekend due to injury but in Aicardi they found a new star. Canada were unfortunate and a bounce of the ball could have seen them in the top 8 especially considering losing their 2 most senior players. If France learn to stretch teams and play with real width they will only become more dangerous. The rest Within the other 7 'core' teams in the HSBC World Sevens Series, Samoa are in freefall, they would be ranked below Canada at the moment in 11th/12th along with Argentina & Scotland both of which would feel confident of beating the Islanders if playing today on a neutral field USA, Portugal and finally Spain find themselves in the doldrums of the rankings after poor performances over the weekend. WIth some serious questions needing to be asked by all of them, perhaps for differing reasons. Do you agree/disagree? Let us know via facebook below. We want to hear from you!!! - See more at: