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Tough draw for Treu’s Sevens

The South African rugby Sevens side have been drawn in a tough group, alongside World Cup winners Wales, at this year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in October.

The pool draw was made by the International Rugby Board and the Commonwealth Games Federation. Marking almost exactly one year since Sevens’ inclusion as an Olympic sport at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, the tournament is the first opportunity to witness its proven blend of high-octane action and competitive matches in a multi-sport Games environment.

Defending Commonwealth Sevens champions New Zealand are top seeds and head Pool A, where they will face opening matches against World Series regulars Scotland and Canada as well as Caribbean champions Guyana, who also competed on the World Series this season in Las Vegas. New Zealand have won all three Rugby Sevens gold medals on offer so far – in 1998 (Kuala Lumpur), 2002 (Manchester) and 2006 (Melbourne).

Bronze medallists in 2002 coach Paul Treu’s South African side head Pool B and face three challenging opening ties against reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Wales, Tonga and the host nation, India. The Blitz Bokke were also bronze medallists at last year’s World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Reigning IRB Sevens World Series champions Samoa top Pool C and face matches on day one against ever-dangerous Kenya, the Cranes of Uganda and the exciting Puk Puks of Papua New Guinea.

England, 2006 silver medallists, head Pool D and face a mouth-watering tie against Australia, who finished this year’s World Series in third place behind the Samoans and New Zealand. The two rugby superpowers will also face matches against the third African team in the draw, Namibia, as well as Sri Lanka.

“Having Sevens played at the Commonwealth Games plays an integral role in the ongoing development and promotion of rugby around the world. The event features teams from Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America and the Caribbean and continues to attract some of the world’s top players, delivering exciting matches and attracting new fans,” said IRB President, Bernard Lapasset.

“Sevens has consistently proven to be successful at the Commonwealth Games and this year we are particularly excited that the event is being held in India, where Rugby is reaching out to new, young audiences in a rapidly developing market for our sport. We are looking forward to what promises to be a memorable tournament for the global Rugby family.”

Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation added: “With a record crowd of 50,000 at the final Sevens session in Melbourne in 2006, the Sevens tournament has become one of the most sought-after attractions at the Commonwealth Games, providing an excellent spectacle for both fans and television viewers.

“The inclusion of some of the world’s best Sevens teams and star players from every corner of the world continue to broaden the Games’ global appeal even further.”

The tournament schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.