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The next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series are enormously important for the USA.

As this country tries to build on the Olympic status of rugby 7s, and looks ahead not only to the 7s World Cup in June but Olympic qualification, being within the core teams on the World Series becomes more and more important.

Sponsors, the USA 7s tournament, and the Olympics all are affected by the USA’s presence in the World Series core.

The core is decided by a system newly-installed this season. The top 12 core teams in the standings following Round 8 in Glasgow get to come back the next year. Meanwhile, the other three core teams join five other teams – the top four from the Qualifier bracket at this weekend’s Hong Kong 7s, plus the Asian champions (who are in the Hong Kong 7s proper) – to qualify for core status in 2013-2014. That tournament will be held in tandem with the regular HSBC World Series event in London.

So it’s simple and complicated. If the USA is in the top 12 once Glasgow wraps up, then they are back as a core team for next season. If they are not in the top 12, then they have to finish 3rd or better in a promotion/relegation tournament the final weekend of the World Series in London.

Obviously, everyone in the USA program would want to avoid that qualifier tournament. It’s an event that will include Hong Kong (the Asian champs) and the likes of Russia, Japan, and Tonga, and maybe Zimbabwe or the Cook Islands. It won’t be easy to finish in the top three, especially if your confidence has been shaken.

Thus it comes down to winning rugby games now, and preferably to win them while the teams close to the Eagles in the standings lose them.

Right now the USA is ranked 13th – in the relegation pool with Portugal and Spain. They are five points behind Scotland and seven points behind what must be a very nervous Australia. Canada is 10th with 39 points, 11 ahead of the USA.

The USA has three tournaments to make up those points, and, at the same time, keep Spain and Portugal (five points adrift at 23) behind them. To do that they have to get back to the Cup Quarterfinals, which would guarantee them 10 points, and hope that Scotland, Australia and Canada do not.

With that in mind, here’s what the USA fans should be hoping for in this weekend’s Hong Kong 7s:

Pool A
South Africa, Wales, Australia and Argentina
It’s preferable for the USA for South Africa and Argentina to be the top two.

Pool B
New Zealand, USA, France, Kenya
Guess. OK, we’ll tell you. New Zealand and USA up and France and Kenya down would serve the USA’s purposes.

Pool C
Samoa, Scotland, England, Portugal
Scotland and Portugal down, although if England dropped down instead of Portugal, that would be OK, as long as the Eagles are in the top eight.

Pool D
Canada, Fiji, Spain, Hong Kong
Fiji and Hong Kong up and Canada and Spain down, although if Spain made the top eight and so did the USA, then that would serve.


So what if that happened?
Your top eight would be:
South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, USA, Samoa, England, Fiji, Hong Kong

Your bottom eight would be:
Wales, Australia, France, Kenya, Scotland, Portugal, Canada, Spain

If that happened and the USA got no further than the Plate Semis, you might see a standings something like this:

Rank

TEAM

PTS

1

New Zealand

113

2

Samoa

93

3

South Africa

92

4

Fiji

81

5

France

66

6

Argentina

66

7

Kenya

65

8

England

54

9

Wales

49

10

Canada

42

11

Australia

40

12

United States

38

13

Scotland

35

14

Portugal

24

14

Spain

24

You see that the USA could move up to 12th, but you also see how terribly tight it’s going to be. The teams from 9th down to 15th are all in danger of being in that 13th-15th spot. Even if all goes well for the USA, they will not be able to relax, and will have to play well again in Tokyo, and again in Glasgow.

It’s very possible that the relegation placements will come down to Sunday in Scotland May 5.