We profile the four teams making up Pool A at the 2012 Hertz Sevens in Wellington, round 4 of the HSBC Sevens World Series, with key stats on the team’s World Series record and a lowdown on their season so far…
Won: 550 (86.00%)
Tournaments : 112
Debut : Series 1 – Dubai
Highest Score: 93-0 v BAHAMAS, Commonwealth Games 1998
Ranking last season: 1st
Coach: Gordon Tietjens
Having started the season with a squad that was, in his own words, ‘under-done’, New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens was delighted to finish runners-up on the Gold Coast. Losing to Samoa in the Dubai final with a more seasoned squad will have irked him, but the fact that they put things right straight away in PE is testament to their standards and durability. Consistency wins you the World Series – that and a good start – and once again the kiwis have enjoyed both. The home support and expectation in Wellington is a double-edged sword, but they’ve wielded it to good effect in recent years.
Won: 143 (36.00%)
Debut: Series 1 – Dubai
Highest Score: 62 – 0 v THAILAND, Hong Kong 2010
Ranking last season: 11th
Coach: Alex Magleby
The USA may not have started the season too well, but they might just have turned a corner in sneaking through to a Cup quarter final in South Africa last time out. Sprinter Carlin Isles is grabbing the headlines with his frightening pace, but it’s proven players like Zack Test, Colin Hawley, Shalom Suniula, Luke Hume and the captain Mat Hawkins who can really start to drag Alex Magleby’s experienced side out of trouble.
Won: 383 (67.00%)
Debut: Series 1 – Hong Kong
Highest Score: 75 – 0 v SRI LANKA, Dubai 2003
Ranking last season: 3rd
Coach: Ben Ryan
England have battled with injuries to key players all season, but their coach Ben Ryan will be demanding much more of his squad in general in the new year. Third overall last season, England currently lie thirteenth and if the relegation play-off were to happen tomorrow, England would be in it. Marcus Watson’s emergence as a player of genuine match-winning ability was a major plus across the last two rounds but they will welcome back Mat Turner with open arms and hope he can turn things around. Chris Cracknell will miss slightly more of the season and is arguably an even bigger loss for the weight and physical edge he and he alone brings to their side. They won in Wellington in 2009 and, with the likes of Dan Norton eager to impress, desperately need to get back that winning feeling.
Won: 38 (32.00%)
Debut: Series 1 – Punta del Este
Highest Score: 38 – 0 v ZIMBABWE, London 2007
Final ranking last season: 14th
Coach: Ignacio ‘Tiki’ Inchausti
Spain got their season off to a cracking start, beating England to win the Bowl in the Gold Coast, but since then their results have dipped slightly. They’re still playing great Sevens, and Pedro Martin is the top try-scorer this season so far, but they’re no longer taking sides by surprise so Ignacio Inchausti will be working his side even harder in the build-up to Wellington.