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ROSKO SPECMAN

After completion of the first two (Dubai and Cape Town) of ten HSBC tournaments, there exists some trends in the Men’s circuit that are noteworthy. At the outset though, the fast game of sevens can produce significant changes in a single tournament, and two played matches offer cautionary data that could change quickly in the season.

Most outstanding is the USA’s number one standing with 38 points. A team cannot generate the higher point total if it (1) does not qualify for the Elite Eight, or (2) lose in the quarterfinals, which halts advancement. The Eagles barely qualified in Dubai, going 1-2 in pool play, and then won the next two rounds to lose to the All Blacks in the final.

At Cape Town, the USA won the first five contests to set up the final against Fiji, losing 29-15.

Spain has acted as the Cinderella squad, standing 9th in World Rugby standings. In pool play, Los Leones upset Argentina, for the first time ever. After being shut out by Fiji in the quarters, Spain defeated Scotland 12-7, and lost to England by the same margin. The performance generated a sixth place Cape Town finish with 12 tournament points.

While Spain ascends, Kenya is the key team that is not performing up to historical standards.  In the two events, it has only produced four points and sits near the bottom of the core teams. The poor showing could be as a direct result of many of the sevens players also having competed in the recent Rugby World Cup Repechage qualifier, a four-team event won by Canada.

To retain their number one spot, the USA must continue to advance out of the preliminary pool. The Eagles’ chances – also the opportunities for the other top teams – will be affected by the absence of the South African ace Rosko Specman. The Dream Team selected star signed a two-tear contract to play professionally for the Bulls and will not appear again this season.  Specman, aged 29, played in 130 sevens games.

The next series moves Down Under with Hamilton on tap for January 27,28, and Sydney to follow, February 1,2, and 3 for Men and Women.