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The IRB has confirmed the pool draw for round seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Tokyo Sevens at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on 30-31 March 2013, and the draw might help the USA, if they help themselves.
The draw was made before the Cup final of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, which was won by Fiji in dramatic fashion, coming back from 19-0 down at the break to beat Wales 26-19.
In retaining their Hong Kong title, Fiji head Pool A in Tokyo and face matches against Portugal, South Africa and Spain.
Wales reached their first ever Cup final in IRB Sevens rugby in Hong Kong and their runners-up place means they head Pool B next weekend with matches against the fourth-placed team in Hong Kong, Kenya, as well as USA and Scotland.
HSBC Sevens World Series leaders New Zealand start in Pool C, where they are joined by hosts Japan as well as Canada and France.
Finally, Pool D features four evenly-matched sides in Australia, Samoa, England and Argentina.
This draw is a fortunate one for the USA. They are perfectly capable of beating all three of their pool opponents, and making the Cup Quarterfinals. In addition, they have control over their race with Scotland (one point ahead of the Eagles in the World Series standings).
(See here for the World Series Standings. See here for a breakdown of what that all means for the USA.)
This is not a good draw, necessarily, for teams trying to push the USA
down. Portugal and Spain, both chasing the Eagles (Portugal is tied with
the USA at the moment) are in the same pool as each other, and as Fiji and
South Africa. The likelihood is, both the Iberian teams will be in the Bowl
Similarly, England and Australia are in a pool with Samoa and Argentina. It's unlikely both Australia and England make the top eight.
So here's the scenario the Eagles need:
1. Win Pool B by beating Wales, Kenya, and Scotland.
2. See Spain and Portugal finish 3rd and 4th in their pool.
3. Not worry at all what happens in Pool C.
4. Hope Samoa and Argentina finish top two in Pool D.
5. Play Canada or France in the quarterfinals, and beat them.
If that happens, and it is completely possible if the USA just stops committing penalties in the rucks, then the Eagles could move up as high at 11th. It's an optimistic scenario for USA fans, but it's not unreasonable.