Rugby sevens is fast and furious, requiring exceptional levels of fitness, skill and decision-making under pressure for 14 minutes. Unlike rugby 15, an error, a bad pass, a dropped ball, a missed tackle can lead to the loss of the match.
All seven will be completed and dusted in the first three days of the Commonwealth Games, starting at 6 p.m. AEST on Friday with the women taking on South Africa at 6:22 p.m., followed by the men against Jamaica at 7:50 p.m.
For the rugby fan, you can listen to the suave tones of longtime commentator Greg Clarke. Also, former sevens player (and now Parramatta NRLW player) Tiana Penitani is a very good expert commentator, providing the ‘why’ something happened, not just the ‘what’.
Unlike some sports, the top World Series teams also compete in the Commonwealth Games – New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and Australia.
What is the format?
The women have eight teams, two pools of four.
Pool A – New Zealand, Canada, England, Sri Lanka.
Pool B – Australia, Fiji, Scotland, South Africa
The men have 16 teams, four pools of four.
Pool A – New Zealand, England, Samoa, Sri Lanka
Pool B – South Africa, Scotland, Tonga, Malaysia
Pool C – Fiji, Canada, Wales, Zambia
Pool D – Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Jamaica
The top two from each group advance to the quarter-final/semi-final medal rounds. (The other two pool teams also play a few extra matches.)
There will be some powerful close matches and more than likely some explosive scores. (As with many sports at the Commonwealth Games and Olympics, there are a bit of a “haves and have nots” when it comes to resources. players, the mere act of participating being a sporting event for them.)
What are the Australian teams?
Australia women’s team
For those new to rugby sevens, the women’s team is Australia’s only full-time professional national football program and has been since 2014.
The youngest on the team is Jesse Southwell, 17, and the oldest, Sharni Williams, 34, with an average age of just 22. If the trendy word in the sports vernacular is cohesion, they have it. This team has pretty much been together since before the Olympics with minimal changes. The beating hearts of the team are still Charlotte Caslick and Williams, both are needed to win gold. Caslick is one of the best players in the world and has been since winning gold at Rio 2016.
Faith Nathan, Maddison Levi and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea are three game breakers to watch. With restarts being so critical in the seven-man game, this is where Maddison Levi added a new dimension to the squad. It will be interesting to see how the team fares with Lefau-Fakaosilea back. She didn’t play when they lost the World Series final Toulouse to the Kiwis. She is the most physically dominant player on the team, both in attack and defense. A new player who has really started to impress recently is Teagan Levi. (both Levi sisters were part of the Gold Coast Suns AFLW program).
Australia men’s team
The workforce is well mixed with an average age of 25 years. The team has a few veterans like captain Nick Malouf, Henry Hutchinson, Maurice Longbottom and Josh Turner. But to pick three to watch – Corey Toole, Dietrich Roache and Henry Paterson are worth watching in action. For pure speed, watch Toole with some space. The Australian men’s team is not a glamorous team but every player knows his job and does it well, especially in defence.
A few 15-year-olds have been drafted into the squad for the Commonwealth Games. Coach John Manenti says Samu Kerevi and Mark Nawaqanitawase are X-factor players. That is to say, they are the icing on the cake of the core team that has performed so well throughout. of the World Series. They are unlikely to play big minutes but used in short bursts.
For both teams, based on recent results, a medal is likely non-negotiable.
For women, they will be more than disappointed by any color other than gold. However, beating New Zealand is a huge task as they are still the favourites. In the Australian pool they have the dangerous Fijiana who brings the flair but also the physique that Fijian teams are renowned for.
As a reminder, at the Tokyo Olympics they won the victory over Australia. If that happens, it likely throws a spanner in the works, with Australia then set to meet the Kiwis before the final. In their basin, there is also South Africa which is a bit unknown because it has invested a lot of resources in its women’s program. So Australia topping the group is a probability, but by no means a certainty.
In summary, most will expect a gold medal final between Australia and New Zealand.
For the men’s competition, it should be a head-to-head between Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia for gold. In the end, there are four teams and there are only three medals, so at least one team is going to be really disappointed. (It should be noted that Australia, out of six Commonwealth Games, has only won two bronze medals and one silver. By contrast, New Zealand has won five of the six gold medals.) So Sevens is a bit like T20 cricket where anyone can win that day, Australia should get through the group stage fairly easily.
The knockout stages are where stress comes into play, in a significant way. Australia won and lost against the top eight likely teams. Whichever way you look at it, it’s going to be very exciting. If the Australian men win gold, it will be an incredibly exceptional achievement as unlike the women, only six of the players are under full-time contract with Rugby AU.
How to watch it
The Commonwealth Games Sevens Tournament will be on Channel 7 (or you can stream it on the 7 Plus app), from Friday July 29, 2022, from 6pm to 10.30pm (and Saturday and Sunday from 6pm) . If you didn’t use 7Plus during the Olympics, it’s a game-changer to watch games and sports that may not be on the major FTA channels.