2017 London Sevens Preview

POOLS:
A: South Africa, USA, Wales, Kenya
B: Scotland, France, Argentina, Russia
C: New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, Japan
D: England, Samoa, Australia, Spain

Normally, I'd dive into each of the pools with a lot of info about the teams, their recent form and some info on recent matchups. Given that this is the last tourney of the 2016-17 HSBC Sevens World Series and that South Africa has wrapped the title up, circumstances have changed enough to take a different approach here.

Favorites:
Obviously, a team with South Africa's track record this season has to be in this category. I'd definitely add England here and frankly, they may be the more motivated side to win the tourney given its location and the fact that England would love to wrap second place up. I'd add the United States to this group as well. They've come so so close all season long and they'll see this weekend as one last chance to finish the job they couldn't do in Singapore against Canada in the final.

X-Factors:
Argentina's youngsters put on an impressive day two performance in winning the Challenge Cup in Paris. Four of the twelve still have less than two appearances on tour with #7 Mauro Perotti (CASI) getting his debut at some point this weekend. So, look for all of these Pumas players to be motivated to keep their jobs. Also, France sent a much younger squad this weekend with five debutantes and a total of eight players with three or fewer World Series events under their belts. That leads me to believe that game three of the tourney may be an Argentinian romp over France.

Samoa finally broke through to the Cup Quarters in Paris. Head Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens has a long term outlook here and this team will be looking to prove their win over the Aussies wasn't a fluke or a one off. The roster is about even in terms of youth and experience on the Series so expect a serious battle to better their Paris performance.

Three Cheers:
Mark Robertson of Scotland is playing his 57th and final World Series event this weekend. He's been a big part of Scotland's resurgence as a sevens side and made history as one of the first sevens Olympians for Team GB. Tremendous player and a great run to look back on! Can they repeat their London heroics of last year and send Robertson off as a two-time London Sevens winner? Possibly. They were in last weekend's final, right?

Finally, it should be official that Japan will be off the Series as a core team next season and we've known for a while now that Spain will replace them. One win against a lineup of NZ, Fiji & Canada would be a big ask...but two? Not happening...and they need two to have a shot at staying alive. Funny, of the other three teams in the pool...New Zealand is the one who hasn't won a Cup title this season at one of the tourneys.