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Sevens must innovate or risk fading into nothing, Mike Friday warns

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USA Men's 7s are coached by Mike Friday

USA Sevens head coach Mike Friday fears the short form of the game will die unless big businesses are encouraged to become involved in an IPL-style revolution.

With unions in England and Wales having suspended their Sevens programmes and World Series events in Australia and New Zealand scheduled for January cancelled, doubts are being raised over the ability of Sevens to remain relevant on the world stage.

Friday, currently in UK limbo as he awaits clearance to return to America, believes Sevens is on the precipice but says the involvement of big business, as well as global sports betting companies, could salvage a golden future if unions are prepared to cede control.

Friday told The Rugby Paper: “I don’t know whether the decision to scrap the England and Wales sides is strategic to try and force through a Team GB, but I’m gutted for their players because they’re caught in the middle and just want to play at the highest level they can.

“One thing I am sure about is that Sevens still has a purpose, whether it’s at the pinnacle of rugby in a country or part of a nation’s pathway. It’s the only form of the game that can truly represent global populations and give every country an opportunity to be world-class, win an Olympic gold medal or compete at a Sevens World Cup.

“That’s just not possible in 15s so it’s about creating a Sevens model that is sustainable and works not only for the traditional tier one nations but for developing nations in Asia, the Americas and Pacific islands.

“What the current situation highlights is the fact that we need to think differently. We need to recognise that we have a fantastic product but if we don’t innovate, develop it and evolve it to suit the modern markets, it’s going to die, which would be tragic.”

Friday explained: “For me, private partnerships would be an innovative way of thinking about it. What we have in the World Series are ten global cities which are hugely attractive corporately – and business still needs to happen, even in the current Covid-19 climate.

“If countries would consider pulling their Sevens programmes to one side so they’re not conflicted by existing partnerships and we could build a commercial model along the lines of what Team Sky did in cycling, together with what goes on in cricket’s IPL, we’d have a winner.

“If you look at the competition model of Formula One, as another example, there’s lots of scope. Let’s dream and say our Sevens teams were called Amazon USA, Red Bull Team GB or Renault France, you’re creating something that is very attractive and also means we can reposition our Sevens product on digital media broadcasting channels.

“If you think about what firms like Amazon invest in global marketing, Sevens would be a drop in the ocean for them but the returns could be enormous. For £4m-£5m-a-year they’d have a team that operates in the biggest cities in the world and would bring greater exposure, which would allow us to grow Sevens into something big.

“It doesn’t need to compete with 15s, it can complement it – the emergence of Caleb Clarke in New Zealand shows that it can be a powerful part of the pathway.”

Open mind: USA Men’s Sevens head coach Mike Friday

Friday believes rugby’s stuffy attitudes to sports betting also need to change.

He said: “Spectators today want fast-moving, impulsive actions in sport with lots of different outcomes and they want to dive in and out – Sevens gives you all of that and more and it’s the perfect vehicle to hit global markets in a vastly crowded sporting landscape.

“Gambling is a huge part of sport now and people love to try and work out the outcomes. It’s massive in football yet rugby barely scratches the surface. Why?

“Nobody had heard of IPL cricket a decade ago yet now it’s one of the biggest gambling markets in world sport. It’s going to take radical thinking in rugby but there are still huge opportunities in Sevens.”

With Sevens at a crossroads within the British Isles, Friday has another radical suggestion.

He adds: “Why not call them the British Lions 7s and just rename it Team GB for the Olympics? The Lions could compete in the World Series, which would then allow England, Wales and Scotland to align with Rugby Europe and tie in with the collegiate seasons.

“That would keep costs down for the RFU, WRU and SRU while the Lions would attract a huge sponsor. There are big possibilities, it just needs open minds.”

NEALE HARVEY

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USA Rugby

Blitzboks outclass USA to cruise to Dubai Sevens title

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Ronald Brown for Blitzboks (Gallo)

Ronald Brown for Blitzboks (Gallo)

David Van Der Sandt/Gallo Images

The Blitzboks cruised to the Dubai Sevens title on Saturday after outclassing the United States of America in the Cup final at the Sevens Stadium.

The Blitzboks won 42-7 in the final, after leading 21-0 at half-time.

As it happened | Dubai Sevens

South Africa put on a dominant display as they scored six tries to win their eighth Dubai Sevens title.

Ronald Brown, who won the player of the match award, scored a hat-trick and was supported by JC Pretorius, Selvyn Davids and Shaun Williams, who also crossed the whitewash.

Meanwhile, the USA replied with a sole second-half try by Lucas Lacamp with Steve Tomasin landing the conversion.

The Blitzboks, who defended their 2019 Dubai Sevens title, have now won their third consecutive Sevens title this season.

Earlier on Saturday, the Blitzboks cruised to victories in their quarter-final over Australia (29-5) and semi-final over Argentina (17-7).

Argentina beat Fiji 19-12 to claim third place to avenge their bronze medal loss at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The next tournament for both men and women’s teams is in Dubai once again from 3-4 December.

Scorers:

South Africa

Tries: Ronald Brown (3), JC Pretorius, Selvyn Davids, Shaun Williams

Conversions: Brown (5), Branco Du Preez  

United States of America

Try: Lucas Lacamp 

Conversion: Steve Tomasin



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Barbarians women rout South Africa at Twickenham as Sarah Levy scores hat-trick of tries | Rugby Union News

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USA sevens star Levy led the way with three tries in the match, which was brought forward due to the cancellation of the men’s game against Samoa; A world-record crowd for a women’s rugby match of over 29,000 watched at Twickenham

Last Updated: 27/11/21 4:43pm

Sarah Levy grabbed a hat-trick as the Barbarians women defeated South Africa

Sarah Levy grabbed a hat-trick as the Barbarians women defeated South Africa

Three tries from Sarah Levy helped the Barbarians to a 60-5 win over South Africa in front of a world-record crowd as the women took centre stage at Twickenham on Saturday.

The cancellation of the men’s match against Samoa due to six positive Covid-19 tests in the Baa-Baas camp meant the women’s clash was brought forward to 2.30pm from its original 5.15pm kick-off, although the Samoans were still able to sing their national anthem and perform their cultural challenge ahead of the game.

When the action did commence, winger Levy grabbed two tries in the first half, with the retiring Katy Daley-McLean – named player of the match in her final appearance – Baa-Baas captain Natasha Hunt, Lenaig Corson and Rhona Lloyd all crossing as well to put them 38-0 up at the break.

American Levy grabbed her third after the break, with further tries from Lindsay Peet, Simi Pam and Ciara Griffin putting the seal on a comfortable win in front of a crowd of 29,581 – a world-record attendance for a women’s rugby match.

It was all Barbarians in the opening minutes, and they breached South Africa’s defence in the seventh minute when Daley-McLean put in a cross-field kick to the left which Levy gathered to finish for a converted try.

Former England fly-half Daley-McLean went from provider to scorer seven minutes later as Hunt picked up the ball from the base of a scrum and then produced a one-handed offload for her half-back partner to cross for an unconverted score.

Another scrum soon after the restart led to the Barbarians’ third try as captain Hunt broke downfield and although she was brought down short of the line, the ball was recycled for French second row Corston to go over for another converted score.

Lenaig Corson was among the try-scorers for the Barbarians

Lenaig Corson was among the try-scorers for the Barbarians

Lloyd got in on the try-scoring act in the 22nd minute as she was sent slicing through the defence by Daley-McLean and then 10 minutes later the hosts forced a turnover in front of the South Africa posts, which led to Karen Paquin setting up USA sevens star Levy for her second of the match.

There was still time before the break for the Baa-Baas to add to their tally as well and it was skipper Hunt who did so on the stroke of half time, intercepting a pass and racing away to finish with Daley-McLean’s conversion putting them 38 points clear.

South Africa had created few scoring opportunities and, even when they did get one five minutes into the second half as they opted to kick at goal from a penalty, the post got in the way of Zenay Jordaan’s attempt.

There was no let-up from the hosts when play resumed either and a powerful maul saw prop Peet finish – but fail to convert her own try – in the 51st minute, followed by Levy completing her hat-trick out wide seven minutes later after Chumisa Qawe had been sent to the sin-bin.

Katy Daley-McLean signed off her career in style with a starring role for the Barbarians

Katy Daley-McLean signed off her career in style with a starring role for the Barbarians

Prop Pam’s converted try took the score past the 50-point mark, but the Springboks did manage to ensure they got on the board as first-half replacement Ayanda Malinga used her strength to get over the try-line just minutes after having a score ruled out by the TMO for being in touch.

There was, however, still time for Ireland international Griffin to put the seal on the win with a try, although the back row was unable to land the conversion.



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Canadian rugby 7s teams finish 8th, 11th in season opener in Dubai

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South Africa’s men and Australia’s women won the Dubai Sevens in style Saturday, with both sides going unbeaten at the first stop of the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Both finals were one-sided.

The Blitzboks thumped the U.S. 42-7 for their eighth Dubai title, with Ronald Brown named player of the final after scoring three tries and adding five conversions. Australia spoiled Fiji’s first ever trip to a cup final, dominating in a 22-7 win.

The Canadian women finished eighth while the men were 11th.

Both Canadian teams have gone through extensive turnover since the Tokyo Olympics, where the men finished eighth and the women ninth.

WATCH | Canadian women vs. Team USA:

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Dubai Women: Canada vs USA – 7th place playoff

Watch Canada take on the United States at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. 19:55

The first of two Dubai events was played behind closed doors at the Sevens Stadium. The second event, which starts next Friday, will welcome spectators back.

South Africa continued the form it showed in September, winning both events of the pandemic-truncated 2021 men’s season in Vancouver and Edmonton.

In Dubai, the Blitzboks beat Ireland, Japan, Britain, Australia and Argentina en route to the final. South Africa, which has won 18 straight games on the World Series, outscored its opposition 199-50.

The Australian women won all five of their matches, outscoring the opposition 163-39 with only France providing a challenge in a 24-22 loss to the Aussies. Australia’s Charlotte Caslick was named player of the final.

France won the women’s bronze, blanking Russia 40-0. Olympic bronze medallist Argentina won the men’s bronze, defeating Olympic champion Fiji 19-12 to avenge their 26-14 semifinal loss at the Tokyo Games.

WATCH | Canadian men vs. Team Japan:

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Dubai Men: Canada vs Japan – 11th place playoff

Watch Canada take on Japan at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. 21:48

The Canadian women, who lost 28-26 to Fiji on a late try in pool play Friday, finished with a 1-4-0 record.

After completing play Friday with a 21-17 win over Ireland, they were beaten 24-7 by Britain and 17-10 by Russia before falling 17-7 to the U.S. in the seventh-place playoff. Olivia de Couvreur scored the lone Canadian try against the Americans with captain Breanne Nicholas adding the conversion.

After losing to Australia, Fiji and France on Day 1, the Canadian men were dumped 45-14 by Spain before dispatching Japan 22-14 in the 11th-place playoff after running up a 17-0 halftime lead..

Nicholas Allen and Theo Sauder each scored two tries for Canada against Japan while Cooper Coats added a conversion.

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 women’s season was cancelled although the Canadian women took part in two mini-events — in Vancouver and Edmonton in September — with several top teams unable to take part because of travel restrictions.

New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams, the 2020 Series champions, and the Samoan men aren’t participating in Dubai due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

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