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The new points system in the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series, which gives all participating teams points for playing, even if they finish last, is good for the game.
Why? Because the old system never rewarded any of the teams in the lower half of the bracket, unless they won the Bowl. Whether you went 2-1, 1-1 or 0-2 on the second day, you got no points in the standings to show for it.
In addition, and, in fact, more important, the IRB had no way to rank teams, because a large proportion of them were going through the season with no points at all.
The new system helps lesser teams track their progress, market themselves, and relate to fans.
It’s also interesting to compare the two systems.
Here are the current standings with the new system:
|2011-2012 Sevens World Series Standings|
|19||PAPUA NEW GUINEA||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||3|
As you see, New Zealand is leading, just a few points ahead of Fiji, with South Africa, England, and Samoa probably playing for 3rd. The USA, by virtue of their Bowl Runner Up finish in Japan (note a performance that in the old system would have netted zero points) moved up from 13th to 10th.
OK, now the old system with the same results:
|2011-208 Sevens World Series Standings|
|14||PAPUA NEW GUINEA||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Up top there’s little difference. New Zealand leads, with Fiji fairly close behind, and England, South Africa and Samoa all virtually tied.
But look further down, and you see some major changes. First off, in 6th is Australia, but way, way further behind than in the new system. Why? Because in two tournaments they only made the Bowl Final, and in the old system, that would have meant no points.
Next, look at the USA. Instead of being ranked 10th, they are tied for last (14th) with zero points. That’s because the Eagles have failed to make the Cup Round even once this year, and while they have made three Bowl Finals, have yet to win one.
The new system gives the USA credit for winning six out of seven Bowl Quarterfinal matches. They are ranked 10th, which makes sense as their most frequent finishes have been 10th and 11th.
Is this better or worse than Kenya, which in the new system is 11th, a point behind the USA, because four times they have only made it to the Shield round. However, twice Kenya made the Cup Round, once winning the Plate.
The new system rewards consistency better than the old system – and that certainly has favored the USA.
So the new system doesn’t change very much at the top, but it does change how we rank the bottom tier of teams. It rewards teams who win some games on Day Two on a regular basis over teams that have one or two good weekends (and remember, the USA has benefitted from that type of scoring system in the past also).
Now placed at 10th, the USA has virtually no chance of getting any higher. The Eagles have 37 points, and above them is France, with 65. To catch the French the USA would have to finish no lower than the Cup Semis and have France do really poorly. That won’t happen.
But what about consolidating 10th place? Easy to figure out – do better than the guys behind them. The Eagles can be pleased Canada isn’t in Glasgow, and therefore won’t be a problem. Kenya and Scotland are, though.
Scotland often do well in their home tournament, but still it will all come down to the final two weekends. What will matter will be what the new system rewards – wins on Sunday.
In Glasgow the USA and Kenya are in the same pool. Who wins that pool match won’t matter as much as what they do the next day.