Vodafone Fijians To Face Canada In Dubai Opener
The match schedule is announced for the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series opener in Dubai. Olympic gold medal winners and 2015/16 series champions Vodafone Fijian 7s team will begin their World Rugby Sevens Series 2016/17 men’s campaign against Canada, following the announcement of the full match schedule for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.
The Fijians, according to World Rugby, will have a new coaching set-up following the departure of head coach Ben Ryan but as the reigning Dubai, series and Olympic champions they will start as firm favourites. The islanders take on Canada in their pool opener at 7.52pm (Fijian time) on Friday, December 2, and then Wales at 11.36pm. On Saturday, December 3, they face Argentina at 4.48am. The gold medal final will be played at 4.33am, Sunday December 4. SOUTH AFRICA Last season’s second-ranked side, South Africa, bronze medallists at the Olympics, start against African qualifier Uganda with further matches against last season’s London champions Scotland and USA. NO TIETJENS For the first time in the 17-year history of the series, New Zealand will start a season without long-time coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens. Twelvetime series winner Tietjens retired after the Olympic Games, having served in the role for 22 years and motivation will be high for the All Blacks Sevens after a disappointing Rio campaign. They will start their Dubai challenge against Russia with further matches against Samoa, also under new management, and England, whose coach Simon Amor and captain Tom Mitchell guided Team Great Britain to an Olympic silver medal.
Australia’s men head the fourth of the pools and start their season against newly-promoted Japan, who finished an impressive fourth in Rio following a famous pool victory over New Zealand. Singapore champions FIJI SUN Kenya and France also lie in wait.
The pool draw for the 16-team men’s tournament had earlier been conducted in London by the series’ tournament director Douglas Langley alongside former England Sevens captain and series co-commentator, Rob Vickerman. The draw was watched live on Facebook by over 80,000 fans, which follows a growing trend: between 150,000 and 300,000 fans tuned into the worldrugby7s Facebook page at the end of each of the 10 rounds last season for exclusive pitchside reaction behind the scenes and similar live coverage can be expected on World Rugby’s social channels during the 2016/17 season. | WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 | FIJISUN.COM.FJ | PAGE