Our scribe takes a look at the outright betting for the Rio Olympics men’s Sevens tournament starting on Tuesday the 9th of August.
After a 92 year absence, rugby will make a welcome return to the Olympic Games, albeit, in a much shorter format. Yes, that’s right, the shortest form of the game is set to take center stage at Rio 2016 from Tuesday the 9th of August.
So which of the star-studded sevens sides will claim gold in Rio? I’ll try and figure it out below.
Olympic Men's Sevens | Tuesday 9 August - Thursday 11 August | Rio, Brazil
To Win Outright
Fiji 19/10 | South Africa 22/10 | New Zealand 5/2 | Australia 10/1 | Great Britain 12/1
Pool Opponents: United States, Argentina, and Brazil
Fiji have been placed in a rather kind pool with only the USA, who are - in one of the most absurd statistical anomalies in the history of the game - current defending Olympic Rugby Champions, likely to pose any real threat.
The men from the South Pacific were in great form during the HSBC World Sevens Series winning the 2015/16 edition by 10 points. Their margin of victory could have been a lot bigger, however, had it not been for their mental lapses in Cape Town, Vancouver, Singapore, and London.
This is probably the only area of the Fiji's game that will be causing coach Ben Ryan to feel a bit worried. His side are a cut above the rest of the teams in the tournament but their mental fortitude is often equivalent to that of a spoiled ten-year-old – when things go against them they tend to throw their toys out the cot.
There will be more pressure on them,as they are Fiji’s best shot at a gold medal. That burden may well prove too much.
Player To Watch: Savenaca Rawaca
While tries are generally shared among the Fijian squads, the man who scored the majority of them during this year’s World Series was Savenaca Rawaca. The 24-year-old has been so prolific this season that he’s even got Aviva Premiership side Saracens to sign him up. His blistering pace and brute strength are likely to see him bag a huge amount of tries out in Rio.
Pool Opponents: Australia, France, and Spain
This season’s HSBC Sevens World Series runners-up come to Rio with a real solid looking squad that feature a few fifteens converts but is mainly composed of sevens specialists.
This South African side is one of the best sevens sides the country has ever produced. Forward Kwagga Smith is one of the best in the business while Seabelo Senatla is arguably the quickest man on circuit – boy would I love to see a race between him and the United States speedster Carlin Isles.
These aren’t the only two South African’s worth mentioning, however. Playmakers Cecil Afrika and Justin Geduld are solid readers of the game while Kyle Brown and Philip Snyman bring the necessary physicality you need to match up to the New Zealanders and Fijians.
Player To Watch: Kwagga Smith
The man plays with his heart firmly affixed to his sleeve. His never say die attitude will go a long way in getting the Blitzbokke a medal.
Pool Opponents: Great Britain, Kenya, Japan
While most of the national sevens coaches have opted to leave out their 15’s converts, New Zealand coach Gordan Tietjens has opted to keep his star 15s man, Sonny Bill Williams. He did get rid of Waikato Chiefs stalwart Liam Messam, though, as well as sevens stalwart Kurt Baker.
The Kiwis have been grouped in a rather difficult pool which features Great Britain and Kenya sure to provide some stiff competition. The New Zealanders should be able to overcome these two sides if they perform to the best of their abilities.
The trouble for them could come later on in the tournament when they face off against the South Africans and the Fijians who have had their number this year.
Player To Watch: Sonny Bill Williams
He really grew this season as a sevens player and I expect him to continue that growth at the Olympics. His ability to offload in the tackle will be key for New Zealand.
Verdict: South Africa 22/10
I fancy the South Africa's to claim gold in Rio. Their XV's converts have blended in well and their just seems to be a nice balance about this squad.