HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leader South Africa may start as firm favorites, but another surprise result may be on the cards in Singapore this weekend. That is the inside Iine taken by players and officials who spoke to the media at this morning’s kick-off media conference for the HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s.
“England and South Africa have been outstanding,” said Collins Injera, who was part of the Kenyan team that shocked Fiji to win the Singapore 7s last year. “These two teams have set the standard this season. Last year Kenya won a Cup final for the first time, so we are coming to Singapore as defending champions. We have had an up and down season, but we are pumped up for this tournament. Our first game on Saturday will be crucial, if we can build momentum from there, it will be good for the rest of tournament.”
Kenya has travelled to Singapore with only five players from last year’s winning squad and the Shuujas begin their title defence against Argentina before facing Australia and Samoa in Pool C. Pool A will see Fiji taking on Canada, Russia and Hong Kong, while Pool D features New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.
Despite being in a tough group with Series-toppers South Africa, England and Japan, French manager Christophe Reigt remains optimistic.
“Each tournament is a new story. For example, last week it was Fiji who was the best. Every team wants to win something and France could spring a surprise too,” said Reigt. “Argentina and United States have shown good form and they are very difficult teams to break down and they are dark horses for this tournament. They have a high work rate and are good on the break. They could win this tournament if they have a really good day.”
Agreeing with Reigt is the absolute guru of sevens rugby and Samoa’s coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens: “In the Sevens game, on any given day, any team can beat any team and go on to win a tournament. You just have to be up for it. Samoa had some good performances in Hong Kong and played really well against England and Australia. In sevens rugby, injuries can happen and you need to have depth in your squad, you need players who can step up and deliver. For us it is about giving younger players experience on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but we too are coming here to win it – no question about it.”
Among the players to watch out for this weekend are England winger Dan Norton who became the all-time leading try scorer in Hong Kong last week with 246 tries, currently two ahead of former record holder Collins Injera of Kenya. Norton has notched up 36 tries in 40 games this season, three ahead of American blitzman Perry Baker. In contrast, Injera has only scored nine tries in 26 matches.
“Yes I am two behind (Norton), after breaking the world record for highest number of tries, my focus has shifted,” explained Injera. “We have young guys who has just been introduced into the team. I’ve assumed a leadership role to help the guys to learn the ropes; so scoring tries isn’t my top priority. If I get to score, that’s well and good, we’ll see how far we can take go this weekend.”
Fans can get to show their colours this weekend and support their favourite teams and players as the HSBC Singapore 7s kick off on Saturday April 15 at 11am.
In addition to world-class rugby action, rugby fans can expect ‘always on’ in-stadia live entertainment with performances from former Singapore Idol finalist Leandra Rasiah and massive karaoke singalong sessions, while enjoying ice-cold beer from official beer, Tiger Beer. Spectators, young and old, can expect interactive game booths and food and beverage concessions along the 100 Plus Promenade throughout the day. When tournament play ends each day, there will also be a free shuttle bus service to bring fans to riverside attraction Clarke Quay, the Official After Party venue, for the Music After 7s festival.