It’s a banana race… all in a bunch.
The Men’s Sevens World Series got no more spread out after a wild weekend in Hamilton, and all that did was raise the stakes for the remaining tournaments, especially the LA Sevens.
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Samoa took 9th and dropped from 1st in the World Series to 5th. Tied for 1st South Africa took 7th in Hamilton and slipped to 4th. These types of changes are very tough to do normally because the spread between teams in the standings is normally larger.
New Zealand and USA, 3rd and 4th going into Hamilton, are now 1st and second after the All Blacks 7s took 2nd and USA 3rd.
Argentina, which loves shaking things, did just that, beating New Zealand at their home tournament and jumping from 8th to 3rd in the World Series standings.
Fiji … Fiji! … is now 8th.
But it’s an 8th that’s not too far back. A wonky showing from Samoa, France, or Australia next week and the Fijians are right back in it.
GRR talked about the relegation prospects, too. With the World Series going down to 12 teams per tournament next year, the 15th team will be dropped from the Series, and the teams ranked 12, 13, and 14 will be in a tournament in London to figure out who gets the final spot for 2023-24.
Japan remains the most likely team to drop as they finished 15th again and dropped behind non-core team Tonga, which finished tied for 11th, getting five points (Japan has four after finishing 15th in all four tournaments).
Kenya got a boost to ensure they will at least be in that London playoff, while Uruguay, after making the top eight in Cape Town, tied for 15th and got just one point, putting them back in contention for that relegation/promotion playoff. Great Britain isn’t out of the woods either.
And that’s actually the thing. There is a massive gap between the stronger teams and the others. 1st is New Zealand with 63 points; 9th is Ireland with 46. The gap between 1st and 9th is 17; the gap between 9th and 10th (GB) is 21.