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Photo Courtesy World Rugby - 2015 Port Elizabeth

After the first three events of the HSBC 2015 Sevens, South Africa has enjoyed two wins, and amassed 59-points to lead second place Fiji by eight points. New Zealand, with 47 points, and a surprising Australia with 46 points, round out the top four. The top four at the end of this year’s series will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

There are still six more tournaments remaining and tallies will certainly change by the end of the last event in London. But, for the moment, noticeable observances of play this year have shifted from past year’s outcomes.

  • England lethargic – A traditional powerful sevens team with scores of past victories, the Red Roses are in sixth place with a mere 37 points, a third place achievement the sole top three finishes of the season. Should England fail to ascend to the top four, they will have to win the European championship.
  • Australia and Argentina Moving Up – These two nations managed high mid pack standings in the past, with Los Pumas winning a tournament now and then. Both have improved this year, especially, the Wallabies with a second and a third. It would be a significant accomplishment for Australia to finish in the top four and not have to play in the Oceania event for a trip to Brazil.
  • Samoa Falling – Who could have predicted that these perennial top sevens would have only 29 points after three contests, and be mired in seventh place? A loss in South Africa last week to lowly Japan indicates many problems.
  • Canada Down – In 2014, the Canadians were the surprise team on the circuit. This year, they have been relegated to the Shield events, showing none of the pizzazz from last year.

Its sevens-weeks until Wellington, with the All-Blacks hoping for their first championship this year, anticipating a supportive home-based crowd. But, to date in 2015, the New Zealanders have lost twice in the finals to their Springboks’ rivals; once in the Commonwealth Games, and, most recently, last week in Port Elizabeth.