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One of the USA 7s team's mantras is that they don't want to look on making the Cup Quarterfinals as an end, but as a beginning.
They want to go from hoping to make the Top Eight to expecting to.
Such expectations are a luxury. Five teams made every Quarterfinals last season, leaving three spots every tournament for others. Of those 24 spots (three in each of eight tournaments), England took seven. The other spots were taken by Argentina (5), Kenya (5), Wales (3), USA (2), Canada and Scotland.
This weekend, the Eagles may find themselves on the outside looking in even if they perform well. The USA faces Samoa and Fiji and finally Namibia. That's a tough run of teams, and while the Americans have started well by earning six IRB Series points in their first tournament, that doesn't make anything automatic in the following event.
Samoa and Fiji have to be favored to go 1st and 2nd in Pool B, while New Zealand and England (Pool C), South Africa (Pool D) and Australia (Pool A) also look favored to make the Quarters. That leaves some competition for Top 8 spots in Pool A and Pool D, but if Portugal or Zimbabwe garner such an honor, fans of the USA should remember there is such a thing as the luck of the draw.
IRB World Series coaches have said they want the second tournament in any pair to be seeded based on the finish from the tournament immediately preceding. Generally, if you added up the seeds of the teams in one pool, you would expect a number around 34.
Current South Africa pools have the following totals:
Pool A: 40
Pool B: 28
Pool C: 29
Pool D: 39
Pool B (USA's pool) only gets 28 because we seed Namibia 16th. The total of the other three seeds in that group is 12.
If the pools were based on the Dubai finish, they'd look something like this: