Our rugby scribe takes a look at the outright betting for this weekend’s Cape Town Sevens tournament being played at the Cape Town Stadium.
And the oval ball action keeps on coming. The XV’s international season may have come to a close but we still have a plethora of rugby action on offer with the European Rugby Champions Cup and the HSBC Sevens series both on the go. While the European stuff always makes for decent viewing, it is by no means as captivating as the Sevens series.
So which of the 16 teams on the Sevens circuit will take the honours in Cape Town? Let’s see if we can find out.
Cape Town Sevens | Saturday 10 December – Sunday 11 December | Cape Town Stadium
To Win Outright
South Africa 1/1 | Fiji 5/2 | England 8/1 | New Zealand 10/1 | Australia 22/1
Pool Stage Opponents: New Zealand, Argentina, Canada
It’s not often that I exclude a New Zealand side from the contenders list. I mean, it is New Zealand after all! But after witnessing how poorly they performed out in Dubai, I just can’t merit having them on my list. Instead, I’ve opted to hand their spot to the English.
The English really looked good at last week’s season opener in the desert. They managed a third place finish and also bagged wins over New Zealand and an impressive Scottish outfit.
They will be in for a sterner test this week, however, as they have been drawn in what can only be described as the ‘Pool of Death’, with both Argentina and New Zealand drawn alongside them.
Player to Watch: Dan Norton
This man has an incredible turn of pace and burnt every one of his opponents out in Dubai last week. He was in fine fettle in Dubai winning the DHL Impact Player award. I suspect we will see Norton in full flight once again this weekend.
Pool Stage Opponents: France, Kenya Japan
They didn’t really get out of second gear last week but the Fijians managed to canter to a berth in the Dubai Final, where they were ultimately undone by a polished and fired-up South African side.
The Fijians last won the South African leg back in 2009, which is quite unprecedented when you consider the frequency in which they’ve won other events.
South Africa may not be the most happiest of hunting grounds for the men from the Pacific but you simply can’t write off a Fijian sevens side. They have the playing personnel to launch a real assault on the title. The only real question mark surrounding them is whether they have the temperament to overcome the host nation, whose physical approach to last weekend’s final caught the Fijian’s off guard.
Player to Watch: Osea Kolinisau
The Fijian skipper will have a huge role to play this week. He’s vastly experienced and is more than capable of taking a game by the scruff of the neck with his power running a deft skill set.
Pool Stage Opponents: Australia, USA, Russia
It has not been a good year for South African rugby as a whole but the Blitzboks performance out in Dubai at least helped put a smile on South African rugby fans' faces.
Neil Powell’s men were at the peak of their powers out in the desert, sweeping aside all comers and producing a record-breaking victory over New Zealand.
Key to last week’s tournament victory was the sensational form of Seabelo Senatla. This will be the flyer's final tournament before linking up with the Stormers Super Rugby squad and he will want to bow out of the South African Sevens set up on a high note. He isn’t the only man who will leave the Blitzbokke to participate in Super Rugby, with both Kwagga Smith and Werner Kok set to also ply their trade with their respective Super Rugby franchises.
Player to Watch: Seabelo Senatla
He really was breathtaking last week and I can’t see his performance levels dropping off in his own back yard. My money is on him ending the tournament as the top try scorer ala Dubai.
Verdict: South Africa 1/1
The Cape Town Sevens defending champions looked a class above everyone in last week’s season opener. They are the most cohesive and experienced unit on the circuit at the minute and I can’t see them faltering in front of their home faithful. Get on a Blitzbokke tournament victory at even money.