USA and Great Britain set for ‘gladiator match-up’ as SVNS series going ‘down to the wire’

Adam Kyriacou
USA Sevens star Perry Baker.

USA Sevens star Perry Baker.

USA Sevens head coach Mike Friday believes there will be “a few twists and turns” as the Eagles and Great Britain men’s sides battle for a place in the Grand Final.

The SVNS series reaches Singapore this week – the final regular season stop – with the aforementioned sides battling for a spot in the coveted top eight.

USA currently occupy eighth place with Great Britain seven points back in ninth, with extra spice added this weekend as the two teams are drawn in the same pool.

Fascinating pool

Further up the standings, it is high-flying Argentina leading the way, with Ireland continuing to impress in second, eight points behind them, while Fiji are in third.

However, much of the focus in Singapore will be on the USA v Great Britain showdown in their final pool game which is the opening clash of day two on Saturday.

USA head coach Friday admits that it’s a massive match but stressed their focus will be on taking on other pool opposition, Fiji and Ireland, on day one on Friday.

“Obviously the game with GB is the talking point for everybody down the bottom of the table and it’s good to have your destiny in your own hands. But there are two other games in that group as well – Ireland and Fiji,” he said.

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“We can all enjoy the gladiator match-up between USA and GB but I think there are a few twists and turns to be had in this tournament that may dictate what happens. GB are more than capable of beating Fiji and Ireland, as are we.

“It is going to go down to the wire, for sure.”

As mentioned, the battle for a top-eight spot results in Grand Final action in Madrid. But for those further down the table in ninth to twelfth, they drop into a relegation-promotion battle against the top four teams from the World Rugby HSBC Challenger 2024.

“It is a pretty brutal scenario that a third of the teams on the world series have to go into a relegation draw but those are the rules of the game and it could be that we both progress and go deep into the tournament,” added Friday.

Baker landmark

“So it’s all to play for and we are excited and up for the challenge. We know what is expected and required if you want to be successful on the world series.”

Plenty of focus will no doubt be on the USA and Great Britain, with the other seven spots for the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid already having been assured.

Friday has made three changes to his squad for Singapore with Naima Fuala’au, Lucas Lacamp and Adam Chanel coming in for Orrin Bizer, Faitala Talapusi and Maka Unufe, while veteran Perry Baker is poised to run out for his 70th SVNS tournament, becoming the second USA player to reach that landmark behind Folau Niua.

Men’s SVNS standings

1 Argentina 94
2 Ireland 86
3 Fiji 76
4 France 74
5 New Zealand 73
6 Australia 69
7 South Africa 58
8 USA 44
9 Great Britain 37
10 Spain 33
11 Samoa 27
12 Canada 13

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