Fiji head into the ninth and final round of this season’s Sevens World Series in London eyeing a first overall title since 2006.
The Pacific Islanders have long been renowned for their skills in the abbreviated form of the game and will be looking to put them on show in front of what is set to be a capacity crowd at Twickenham this weekend.
Fresh from their victory in last week’s Glasgow Sevens, Fiji have 147 points in the overall standings, with South Africa second on 142.
New Zealand, the four-time defending World Series champions, will need a very special 48 hours in London if they are to win a 13th overall title as they currently sit third with 139 points.
But all three sides have already secured a major prize in that they’ve automatically qualified for next year’s Olympics in Rio, where rugby sevens will make its Games debut.
Nevertheless, winning this season’s overall title would mean a tremendous amount to Fiji, who will look to carry on from where they left off in Scotland.
– Serevi standard –
“We played as a team on the weekend, and we are proud of that,” Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau told the World Rugby website.
“It would be really special to win the World Series title, most of the boys think back to the likes of Waisale Serevi 10 years ago, and we will be happy to be counted as some of the players that have lifted the series alongside some of the legends.”
South Africa had led the series since the second round but the pressure appeared to get them in Glasgow where they failed to make the semi-finals for the first time this season.
But skipper Kyle Brown is confident his side will learn quickly from that experience as they look to deliver the Blitzboks’ first overall title since 2009.
“Unfortunately I think we put ourselves under too much pressure in Glasgow,” he said.
“It is disappointing to drop from top spot, but that is not something that will define us.”
England, the nominated Olympic country for Great Britain, are on course to claim the final automatic Games qualifying berth on offer to this season’s top four teams as they are currently 16 points clear of fifth-placed Australia.
Simon Amor’s side finished third in Glasgow, losing 24-19 to the United States, and the England coach said: “This is the first time this season I have been able to pick the same 12 players for two back-to-back tournaments so it is a bit of a luxury for us.
“To play the London Sevens in front of what will be no doubt a world-record crowd in the climax of the season is an incredibly exciting opportunity.”
England top Pool C where they will play Scotland, Kenya and Brazil, while top-seeded Fiji will face Canada, Argentina and Samoa in Pool A.
New Zealand will play Australia, Wales and Japan in Pool B, and South Africa face the United States, France and Portugal in Pool D.
Leading overall standings ahead of the London Sevens, the ninth and final round of the 2014-15 Sevens World Series:
1. Fiji 147 points
2. South Africa 142
3. New Zealand 139
4. England 117
5. Australia 101
6. United States 86
7. Scotland 79
8. Argentina 73
9= Samoa 59
9= France 59