It will be the second year for the HSBC New Zealand Sevens new home in Hamilton, when the latest leg of the 2018/19 world series begins this Saturday. Replacing Wellington, the event is back to prove that it is now the ‘new home’ for the yearly sevens-celebration.
Kicking off the New Year, this is the third stop on the popular World Rugby Sevens Series. Bringing the leading sides to the well prepared FMG Stadium Waikato, it should be a fine example of how popular the sport still is [after some desolate last few years in Wellington].
All the 15 core men’s teams have arrived in New Zealand, as well as the invited team of Tonga. They will be joined in 2019 by four women’s teams, who will compete in the first-ever ‘Fast Four’ competition. A huge boost for the New Zealand Sevens fixture list, as it presents the Black Ferns Sevens to their home crowd over the two days of action.
Now the ‘Tron is set to entertain and host fans and players. An with that enthusiasm, Last Word on Rugby hope that the example on the field sets the precedent for a terrific two days.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) January 15, 2019
If last year was great, then organizers will want 2019 to be even better.
Second year for New Zealand Sevens new home in Hamilton
Teams will not be as unfamiliar with the facilities in 2019 either. The FMG Stadium has one of the best surfaces and is one of the best-designed football grounds in New Zealand. And with the match schedule well planned to provide both plenty of action to watch, as much as off-the-field and outside of the stadium experiences, it has all but Sold Out.
Last year, Levi Sherwood and his X-Games pals put on a show, with live music and carnival rides offering more than just a rugby sevens match. A well-planned food court and plenty of offerings for both adults and children, the two days should keep everyone’s attention.
Still, the seven-minute games being played on the stadium pitch is what we will all look forward to the most.
With the draw below offering a great mix of matches (that begin at 10am), these opening games are crucial for the hopes of teams to advance to the Cup knockout places – lose early, and the pressure is on!
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 9, 2018
While local interest will be on Pool D, all three of the other pools that will influence the outcome in Hamilton. Every side who completes – including Tonga, and the four women’s teams – will place a full focus on this leg. Not yet a third of the way through the season, there is still plenty of movement left in the sevens series standings.
US Team head the series standings – the ‘Form Team’ to beat
The All Blacks Sevens are home town favourites, Fiji the defending champions, yet, the United States are the true ‘form team’ at the moment. They outperformed most, only being pipped in the finals of Dubai and Cape Town …… only just!
Mike Friday is demonstrating what many have suspected. With all the resources available, the US Eagles are soaring.
For the majority of teams, they will have a list written in the changing sheds. That begins with USA, New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa. The American team has usurped England, as they now sit beside Australia, Canada, France, Argentina and Scotland – able to defeat a leading side but, at times not showing consistency.
Across the scheduled matches on Day One of the 2019 New Zealand Sevens, there are some delicately balanced encounters to highlight. Several of them may go to form but, if the upsets start early, LWOR will be as excited as the fans in the stands. Making for a more exciting leg of the HSBC Sevens Series.
10.22am – South Africa v Kenya (Pool C)
11.30am – Australia v Argentina (Pool A)
2.54pm – United States v Samoa (Pool B)
3.42pm – Fiji v Argentina (Pool A)
4.26pm – New Zealand v Canada (Pool D)
7.06pm – USA v England (Pool B)
7.52pm – Fiji v Australia (Pool A)
This is only a handful of the fixtures that could determine if sides end the day in a position to reach their objectives of fighting for the Cup. Knowing this, what can fans draw from the days leading up to the 2019 New Zealand Sevens? It will be tough.
Mid-summer, the bright sun and long days might test some who have traveled from their winters, although with the increase in professionalism, everyone of the 20 competing sides will aim to be ‘primed and ready’.
Look forward to many updates, photos, interviews and ‘shout outs’ from Scott Hornell, as he reports Live from Day One of the New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton.
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