scc7s form guide by stariya

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									       SCC RUGBY SEVENS MOST EVEN CONTEST FOR MANY YEARS

There has probably never been a more difficult year in which to predict the team who will
hoist high the Ablitt Cup at the end of the 55th SCC International Rugby Sevens
tournament this weekend.

Several of the leading teams look evenly matched and competition is expected to be
fierce – with the winner probably coming from one of the following teams: Taradale,
Oriental-Rongotai and Wellington from New Zealand, Randwick (Australia), Army UK,
Davetalevu (Fiji) and Durban Harlequins (South Africa).

However, even with a winning prediction proving so hard to make, there are some
certainties:

      New Zealand sides will perform well. Kiwi teams have dominated the tournament
       in recent years, with the last non-New Zealand winner being Davetalevu in 1995.

      The tournament produces new players who go on to representative and
       international honours. One of the most notable was a young Jonah Lomu, now
       arguably the best-known rugby player on the planet, who appeared in the SCC
       final in 1993. Last year Paul Williams, son of All Black great Bryan Williams,
       appeared for Taradale and has now been chosen to play for the Otago Highlanders
       Super 12 franchise. Wallaby winger Scott Staniforth and All Black Tana Umaga
       are among the international players who „previewed‟ their careers in this
       tournament.

      The Singapore Cricket Club Rugby Team will give 150 per cent this year. I am
       expecting them to come out fully committed to honour their lost teammates.

      And, as the weekend progresses and the beer and wine flows, the other certainty is
       that the spectators will do what all sevens crowds do - enthusiastically and noisily
       enjoy themselves supporting the on-field action, with the greatest din sure to be
       made by the followers of the multi-cultural Swedish Vikings team.

Last year‟s winners, Oriental-Rongotai, impressed everyone with their style in beating
Taradale 35-7 in the semi-final and they boasted the player of the final, Roy Kinikinilau,
and the player of the tournament – Fijian international Esava Tiko. They are also likely to
field New Zealand 7s player Tafai Ioasa although rugby commitments have claimed 1999
All Black Kupu Vanisi and Wellington representative Ma‟a Nonu.
Rating: Defending champions but this year they have lost the element of surprise.

Randwick, champions in 1993, has earned my respect ever since I witnessed a mere club
side almost toppling the great 1988 All Black team. While the exact make-up of their
team is unknown, they will be fast, strong and skilful and will have that stubborn, never-
say-die Randwick attitude.
Rating: Could be the “form horses”.
Davetalevu won back-to-back Ablitt Cups in 1994 and 1995 and are probably the most
attractive side to watch in full flow. They are apparently bringing a strong side this year –
which makes them automatic contenders.
Rating: If they bring their „A‟ game, Davetalevu might just beat everybody.

Three-times winner Taradale has won the Ablitt Cup more times than anyone else since
the SCC tournament went international. They smarted after their heavy 35-7 loss to
Oriental-Rongotai last year and will be breathing fire this year to regain the Cup.
Rating: Top prospect although some won‟t rate them after last year.

The sevens pedigree of sole UK representative Army UK is impressive. They won the
coveted Middlesex sevens title last year and lost only in 2002 to the eventual winners,
Bradford Bulls. They have also won this year the Welsh sevens, the Henley sevens and
the Safari sevens in Kenya. With a strong Fijian contingent – probably including Fijian
internationals Emosi Naisamaraki, „Bul‟ Bulumakau, Alfred Vakacakavanua and Apolesi
Satala plus England international Andy Dawling and skilful skipper Howard Graham,
Army UK will be top contenders again.
Rating: Right up there.

Other leading contenders could be Durban Harlequins. Durban has never won the Ablitt
Cup but their ranks read like a directory of South African and Springbok rugby with
names like Andre Joubert, Cabous van der Westhuizen, Stefan Terblanche and Rudi
Visagie among those to have worn the Harlequin colours and, if the rumours are to be
believed, they are bringing a strong team this year.
Rating: Dangerous.

However, maybe the biggest surprise could be sprung by another first-time contender –
Wellington. This is actually the Hutt Old Boys Marist club from Wellington who won
the right to make the trip to the SCC Sevens after beating Oriental-Rongotai 17-5 in their
regional sevens series. That day, they fielded three schoolboy players – all pupils at St
Pat‟s Silverstream College, Leo Auva‟a, Michael Kingsbeer, and Hale Teofilo and all
names to watch for the future.
Rating: Could be the surprise package of the tournament.

There are several new teams in this year‟s tournament who are unknown quantities –
including Atlantis of USA, South Coast Warriors of South Africa and another potential
“surprise”, Marist North Harbour of New Zealand.


Paul Lewis
Former Auckland B rugby representative
New Zealand Journalist of the Year 1989
New Zealand Sportswriter of the Year
Organising Committee SCC International Rugby Sevens

								
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