Preview: Cape Town Sevens

World Rugby's 2016/17 Sevens Series continues in Cape Town on 10 and 11 December and there's plenty of excitement ahead of the sold out tournament in South Africa's Mother City.

After winning the opening round in Dubai last week, there's plenty of pressure on South Africa who also won the last year's Cape Town Sevens competition.

Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman admitted that expectations at home are always huge.
"We realise our fans are looking at us to deliver the goods and we want nothing else," he said. 

"We only have this great opportunity to play at home once every year and are determined to give it our best shot. We will not leave anything out there.”

The Blitzboks have been drawn in Pool A where they will be joined by Australia, USA, Russia.

A win at the Dubai Sevens may have been the perfect start to the 201/17 edition of the series, beating Fiji 26-14 in the final and going unbeaten, but history suggests South Africa will have to fight hard to maintain their lead. For the past four series, the Blitzboks have finished as runner-up. 

Blitzboks head coach Neil Powell is determined for his side to build on their Dubai triumph and to win the series this season.

"Somebody said we are tired of getting second and the fact we did well in the past two seasons doesn’t mean will perform again," said Powell. 

"We can’t come into this tournament and think we can just start where we left in Dubai. We need to start all over again. That will be the theme this week in our preparation, getting mentally prepared for Cape Town again. We have a really tough pool with USA, Australia and Russia so I think we are going to need a big mental shift. There are some technical areas we can improve on, we’ll be working on both defence and attack this week, particularly game management."

After finishing as runners-up in Dubai, Fiji will be keen to return to their winning ways this weekend. They are the top seeds in Pool B which also include France, Kenya and Japan.

The Olympic champions' new coach Naca Cawanibuka admitted that his side are keen to make up for that loss in the Dubai Sevens Final. 

"We will look at ourselves first and how we want to prepare and make sure that we put our best foot forward and be the best version of ourselves as we try and attack this last tournament and finish 2016 on a high note," he said.

Multiple World Series champions New Zealand were arguably the biggest disappointment in Dubai where they finished in sixth place. They have been drawn in Pool C which also has top seeds England, Argentina and Canada in it.

All Blacks Sevens co-coach Scott Waldrom said: “In Dubai we started to see some improvements, but we lacked consistency and high level game time experience. This weekend we should see an improved performance and I believe this team is good enough to win if we get it right"

Wales are the top seeds in Pool D, after finishing fourth in Dubai, and are joined by Scotland, Samoa, Uganda. The African side delivered several competitive performances and impressed in their first ever World Series tournament.

They eventually suffered a narrow defeat in the Shield Final against Canada and finished in 14th place, from the 16 participating teams, above Japan and Russia.

Pools for Cape Town 7s:
Pool A:
South Africa, Australia, USA, Russia
Pool B: Fiji, France, Kenya, Japan
Pool C: England, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada
Pool D: Wales, Scotland, Samoa, Uganda

Day One, schedule – Saturday, December 10
(Kick-off is local time – GMT plus two hours)
Scotland v Samoa – 10:15
Wales v Uganda – 10:37
New Zealand v Argentina – 10:59
England v Canada – 11:21
France v Kenya – 11:43
Fiji v Japan – 12:05
Australia v USA – 12:27
South Africa v Russia – 12:49
Scotland v Uganda – 13:36
Wales v Samoa – 13:58
New Zealand v Canada – 14:20
England v Argentina – 14:42
France v Japan – 15:04
Fiji v Kenya – 15:26
Australia v Russia – 15:48
South Africa v USA – 16:10
Samoa v Uganda – 16:57
Wales v Scotland – 17:19
Argentina v Canada – 17:41
England v New Zealand – 18:03
Kenya v Japan – 18:50
Fiji v France – 19:12
USA v Russia – 19:34
South Africa v Australia – 19:56

With thanks to World Rugby