Our latest inbox suggests that more All Blacks should be involved in Sevens after disappointing crowds in Wellington, and that England will cope without injured stars.
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New Zealand Sevens needs star power
Sad but World Rugby cannot afford the bad vibes broadcast world wide from the Wellington Sevens. Something drastic must be done by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), but moving it out to another City in New Zealand may not work either.
The fact is Kiwis are bad losers in rugby and they cannot stand the occasional thumping their All Blacks Sevens team gets from minnows Fiji in particular and South Africa more often now, so they prefer to watch rugby sevens in the privacy of their homes where no one else can see the pain.
No matter where the NZRFU move the event to, apart from maybe Auckland, it will be the same – empty seats, bad vibes worldwide.
The only problem with Auckland is DUCO Events have cleverly tied the city and Eden Park up in knots with their NRL Auckland NINES event the weekend immediately after the Wellington Sevens.
Even if the NZRFU handed the “Wellington Sevens” over to DUCO Events and they hosted it in Auckland after the Sydney Sevens, they run a huge risk – can Aucklanders afford back-to-back weekends of big rugby events?
Then there is the question of the All Blacks Sevens team.
While the NZRFU will not risk their main property the XVs All Blacks proper, they cannot afford stand idly by and watch their global brand diluted by the not-so-hot performances of their All Blacks 7s team.
Imagine Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett and Waisake Naholo having a go at Sevens for New Zealand?
The NZRFU has to bite the bullet and make a call and its all or nothing; keep the Sevens in Wellington but bolster the All Blacks Sevenss team with some real All Blacks, or give the event away altogether and see what DUCO Events can do.
An alternate plan B and really nice gesture would be for the NZRFU to suggest to World Rugby that they give the event to Fiji, but that call has to be made within the next 3 or 4 weeks, as soon as they all stop crying in Wellington.
No Vunipoli? France have a chance
I think if Nathan Hughes steps up at 8 and starting losoehead prop holds his own at scrum time, all will be well, except vs France. And Maro Itoje will cover well for Chris Robshaw at 6.
But the key issue will be enforcement of the tackle laws and HIA. We will discover soon tacklers going lower are going to get knocked down and knocked out. Laws are biased towards the crash ball carrier and more concussions not less will result. France will look to bulldoze the likes of Hartley (and Haskell if he plays) experimenting with their lower tackle techniques; it’s no coincidence Haskell lasted 35 seconds in his first game back. This suits France with their big direct runners.
The team that avoids high tackle cards and concussions will win and this means a ball in hand possession based game plan above a kicking for territory based plan. Carry hard at wide arms, keep ball in hand, win penalties, kick hard penalties for lineout drives to get four tries. England’s lineout with three locks plus Wood can save the day but otherwise it’s a France win on the cards. Also for this game plan Teo would win us penalties to kick to the corners whereas two kickers will give France too much possession to run at targeted high tacklers.
France to win at Twickers.