It's down to arithmetic in London 7's

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
May 16, 2015
  • Biko Adema returned from injury to play in Glasgow Sevens. (Photo Courtesy)

The Kenya team has been quietly preparing in London for the London Sevens. Whether there was a media gag or the team just decided they wanted no interference will become clear when they step on the Twickenham turf to face hosts England in their opening match.

Simon Amor’s side are gunning for Olympic qualification while Kenya are hoping to finish on a high after a turbulent season which saw them on the brink of relegation. It is a tough pool which also has Scotland and Brazil.

Kenya is unchanged from the team that played in Glasgow Sevens last weekend where they bowed out to Argentina in the Bowl semi finals. The London Sevens will be Kenya’s launching pad for the 2016 Olympic qualifiers as coach Felix Ochieng fidgets with the line up to get a winning combination.

Inconsistency has been the middle name for the Kenyan team for several years now and while they can be competitive, the same can happen and see the team struggle against opponents they have easily beaten in the past.

For Collins Injera, the team’s assistant captain, London will be special because he is only one try away from reaching the magic number of 200 to become the third all-time top try scorer behind Ben Gollings and Santiago Gomez Cora (Argentina).

That one try will also see him overtake Lavin Asego as the top points scorer in the Kenya team. His brother Humphrey Kayange is not far behind in the ninth position.

Kenya’s next match in this pool will be against Scotland before winding up with Brazil.

There is all to fight for in London with all the top three teams, Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand all having a chance of claiming the overall title. It will be down to arithmetic on the second day if the teams qualify for the cup quarter finals.

Fiji are unchanged from the side that won the Glasgow Sevens last weekend and Twickenham is a familiar turf for Benjamin Ryan, a former England coach. Two other coaches, Mike Friday and Simon Amor are also familiar with this ground.

Amor who is now in charge of England has his eyes fixed on snatching that fourth spot for an automatic qualification to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. England are currently fourth and are likely to cement their position in a home tournament.

Although the chase for an Olympics dream is at the heart of England’s plans, the hosts could also have a big say in who walks away with the grand trophy of winning the Series. Fiji are currently on top with 147 points and appear invincible despite having a slim five-point lead over South Africa.

Don't rule out New Zealand

Third-placed New Zealand are still in the equation and are hopeful the same scenario last year which saw them win the Series after a good performance in Scotland and England could repeat itself. It’s down to arithmetic for the top three teams.

This is how the scenario looks like: By reaching the cup quarter finals, all the top four teams will still be at par. The decisive moment will be who goes through because that is when the big points come in. Fiji just need to reach the cup semis to win the overall title. But, they could tie on 164 points if they win the playoff and South Africa win the London Sevens.

New Zealand can reach a maximum 161 points if they win the London Sevens but to win the Overall Series, the other results must go their way which means Fiji and South Africa should not progress beyond the cup quarter finals.

But, Fiji are in a better place because finishing fourth will earn them 162 points. It is only if they lose at the quarter finals that the title race could go down the wire because a Plate win is worth 13 points and that will be a total of 160 points.

South Africa and New Zealand’s chances would be dealt a big blow if they fail to go past the cup quarter finals.

There are injury worries for New Zealand and South Africa which may be crucial. Neil Powell, the South African coach is without mercurial Cecil Afrika who was injured in Glasgow. Justin Geduld who recently recovered from injury has been called in.

Already, South Africa missed Philip Snyman for the penultimate round. In Afrika’s absence Branco du Preez could be the playmaker with the flying winger Seabelo Senatla dashing for the chalk line.

Kwaaga Smith and Werner Kok are other key players to lead the Blitz Bokke’s assault for the diadem. South Africa top Pool D which has USA, France and Portugal.

Gordon Tietjens has also made changes because of injuries to Ambrose Curtis, Tim Mikkelson and Joe Webber. Veteran Lote Raikabula, Declan O’Donnell and Isaac Te Tamakai have been called in.

Series standings after Glasgow Sevens: Fiji 147, South Africa 142, New Zealand 139, England 117, Australia 101, USA 86, Scotland 79, Argentina 73, Samoa 59, France 59, Canada 57, Wales 50, Kenya 38, Portugal 27, Japan 18.

London Sevens

Pool A: Fiji, Canada, Argentina, Samoa

Pool B: New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Japan.

Pool C: England, Scotland, Kenya, Brazil.

Pool D: USA, South Africa, France, Portugal

Order of play

South Africa v Portugal, USA v France, Canada v Samoa, Fiji v Argentina, Australia v Japan, New Zealand v Wales, Scotland v Brazil, England v Kenya, South Africa v France, USA v Portugal, Canada v Argentina, Fiji v Samoa, Australia v Wales, New Zealand v Japan, Scotland v Kenya, England v Brazil, France v Portugal, USA v South Africa, Argentina v Samoa, Fiji v Canada, Wales v Japan, New Zealand v Australia, Kenya v Brazil, England v Scotland.