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Commonwealth Games 2010: Form guide - rugby sevens

New Zealand celebrate winning gold in Australia
New Zealand are looking to make it four titles out of four in Delhi

One of the stand-out events of the Commonwealth Games, rugby sevens is a sport in which Commonwealth nations dominate the global game.

Five of the top six in the current International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens rankings will be present, with only Fiji - suspended from the Commonwealth following a military coup in December 2006 - missing.

New Zealand, who have won all three gold medals since the sport first appeared in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, will be the ones to beat, although it may surprise some to learn that Samoa are the current number one ranked side, having clinched the Sevens World Series in Edinburgh at the end of May.

The fact that some of the smaller nations are so competitive is one of the reasons the sport was successful in its bid for inclusion in the Olympics.

It will make its Olympic debut in 2016, with tournaments for both men and women.

HOW THE COMPETITION UNFOLDS

There are 16 teams arranged into four pools.

The teams in each group play each other once, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals. All pool matches are completed on the first day of the tournament, day eight.

If teams are level on points during the pool stage, rankings will be decided by the result of the match between the two equal teams. If the match is drawn, points difference will be used.

The third and fourth placed teams in each pool progress to the Bowl competition, and the quarter-final losers take part in the Plate competition. No medals are awarded to the winners of those events.

POOL A

New Zealand were pipped to the World Series title by Samoa this year but they boast a formidable squad, including three All Blacks in Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford and Ben Smith.

Hosea Gear in action
Hosea is the younger brother of ex-All Black winger Rico Gear

Scotland are captained by Scott Forrest and have one survivor from the 2006 Commonwealths in Melbourne - their highest-ever points scorer, Andrew Turnbull.

Canada head coach Geraint John named six of the seven players who started the Bowl final (for ninth place) at the Hong Kong Sevens in March, which saw them beat Wales. Thyssen de Goede, who scored four tries in Hong Kong, is one to watch.

Caribbean champions Guyana are making their Commonwealth Games debut in rugby sevens and are led by 25-year-old wing Claudius Butts, who captained the West Indies team at the IRB Sevens from 2005 to 2009.

POOL B

South Africa won the IRB Sevens World Series in 2008/2009, but finished a disappointing sixth in the overall standings this year. Captain Kyle Brown, Chase Minnaar, Renfred Dazel, Ryno Benjamin and MJ Mentz are all core members of the squad and all featured in their successful season last year.

Wales have the ability to upset the big teams, famously beating New Zealand on the way to winning the Dubai Sevens last year. Coach Paul John was named 2009 Coach of the Year by the Sports Council of Wales for overseeing the Dubai triumph.

Tonga have a reputation for hard-tackling and look to be a threat to Wales' hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Hosts India face a "herculean task" according to their captain Nasser Hussain. The squad have trained in New Zealand and were unlucky to lose to Sri Lanka in the semi-final at the Asian Sevens in Delhi.

POOL C

World Series champions Samoa have an exceptional side, with Mikaele Pesamino winning the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award for his 56 tries. But the top seeds are without the experienced Uale Mai, who has taken up a playing contract in Spain.

Kenya finished eighth in the World Series rankings, above Wales and Scotland, as well as claiming a 26-21 win over England in the USA. They have two survivors from the 2006 Games in Melbourne - Lavin Asego and Sidney Ashioya.

Papua New Guinea showed their ambition when they appointed Fijian great Waisale Serevi as their coach in August last year, but the former Leicester favourite's stay was short-lived and he left his post in March.

Namibia have ground to make up - they failed to qualify for the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens and were outclassed four years ago in Melbourne, losing all three of their group games, scoring just three tries.

POOL D

England coach Ben Ryan has chosen seven players - Ben Gollings, Greg Barden, Kevin Barrett, Chris Cracknell, Dan Norton, James Rodwell and Fijian-born Isoa Damudamu - who were in the side that clinched the Wellington and London Sevens titles in 2009.

England captain Ben Gollings
Gollings is the IRB Sevens Series all-time leading points scorer

Captain Gollings is one of the all-time great sevens players, with his 2,374 points in the IRB Sevens World Series by far the highest by any player.

Australia beat South Africa to win the London Sevens title at Twickenham in May and boast Wallabies winger Lachie Turner, although the team have been hit by injuries.

Sri Lanka were runners-up in the Asian Rugby Sevens tournament held in Delhi in April, losing to top seeds Malaysia in the final 38-5.

Uganda have named an experienced side but Allan Musoke, who captained the side at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, is 'bogged down by a tight work schedule' and misses out.



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