Weekly Whine #23
This week we look at 4 of the Big Five shunning Hong Kong’s premier event the Hong Kong Sevens
As usual I sat down to preview the Hong Kong Sevens tournament like I always do, this is usually on the Tuesday preceding the tournament. This time it was no different, or that is how I thought, how wrong I was, I noticed that no Bookies had priced up on the Outrights!
I did a bit of further research and found that South Africa’s Blitzbokke were planning to send a B Team along as they were apparently targeting the next tournament the Gold Coast Sevens which is part of the Commonwealth games.
On further inspection I found that not only SA but New Zealand, England and Australia followed as well. Although SA’s Blitzbokke’s depth was far greater than that of NZ, England and Aussie, even though it was also clear for everyone to see, it does not however take away the undertone of what went down.
Hong Kong Sevens has always been in my opinion the flagship of the Sevens circuit, having been founded in 1976 in my view almost like the US Masters is to golf, maybe what the World Rugby Sevens can do is instead of applying the same point system to all the tournaments why not grade them like Golf and Tennis. Tennis has a great system they have four Grand Slams, eight 1,000 series and an end of year Tour Champs and a whole lot of 500 and 250 series, this would give the bigger teams a choice as to which ones they want to attend, this way you could also see the fringe teams, like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Japan, Russia, Germany etc. all having regular invites. Instead of having 10 stops have 20 and share them out amongst the countries that normally attend.
There is no problem having a tournament in Fiji or Harare, Buenos Aires or even Nairobi for instance? More importantly just like the Golf and Tennis rankings have the Top 10 events to count, so if countries like SA, NZ, England or Aussie decide not to enter a tournament they don’t have to.
Another big problem here is that World Rugby Sevens obviously did not engage with the Big 5 with regards to Hong Kong and although Hong Kong had the power to move or re-schedule their tournament they chose not to. Is sad that the Big 5 bar Fiji chose to snub this event, they have their reasons.
I took a lot of flak on Twitter for my views, I think a lot of people got me wrong, I am not saying that the Bok B Team did not have a good tournament, although it’s difficult to see how good they were, SA played South Korea, Spain, a weak England team, another even weaker NZ team, an average Scottish team and played a reasonable game against a Fiji team in 2nd gear, once they increased the intensity it was not difficult to see the Blitzbokke way out of their depth as they saw a decent lead slip and ultimately lose the game. I am of the opinion that Kenya would have beaten the Blitzbokke in the Final had they got there!
The bright light here was for us to see the talent we would not have otherwise seen, however I am fully into sending a A/B team, but I am against sending a full B Team with a B team Coach.
On twitter I was posed a question about what I thought about Kwagga snubbing Sevens for Super Rugby, personally I do not have an issue with particular players doing this, yes it’s sad, but I understand fully, he has bigger aspirations and possibly reckons he may have a spot in the Bok team to go to the World Cup in 2019.
I noticed that this year is unique in the Sevens year, there is a Commonwealth games as well as a World Cup, I think this is also silly, why not have the World Cup in alternative years to the Commonwealth games? It is seriously not that difficult to organise.
Lastly and probably more importantly, let’s take this series to more size orientated stadiums, sure the Cape Town sevens is a full house booked up around 6 months before the date with tickets selling in just a few hours. Playing this series in big stadiums that are not full is not a clever option, rather have them in a 10,000 seater and full them up then have 10,000 in a 25,000 seater.
I am sure I speak for many when I say, this is a great product, but don’t sit back and think it will work on its own, do your research, grow the game and give more teams a chance to show their wears and allocate importance to certain tournaments. I promise you this will work, and you will eliminate snubbing and get other countries that would otherwise have not had a chance.