The 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series season was another with plenty of thrills and spills for the Qantas Australian Men's Sevens side. From the highs of Dubai and Port Elizabeth in December to the lows of Tokyo back to another Cup Final appearance at Twickenham to round out the season. The 2014/15 season was Head Coach Geraint John's first year in charge of the Men's side.
Fresh from winning a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow just two months earlier, Australia went into the opening leg of the Sevens World Series season on the Gold Coast in high spirits. Along with the other 15 captains, skipper Ed Jenkins launched the Gold Coast Sevens with a stunning photo-shoot at the top of Australia's tallest building - Q1 SkyPoint. However, despite a promising start on Day One after wins against Portugal and Scotland, Finals Day didn't prove so fruitful as narrow defeats to South Africa (12-10) in the Cup Quarter-Finals and Argentina (21-17) in the Plate Semi-Final consigned the Green and Gold to seventh at their home event. Michael Wells made his debut for the Australian Sevens team.
Members of the national Men's and Women's Sevens squad attended an IGNITE session in Sydney hosted by the Australian Olympic Committee to learn more about the culture and values associated with being a part of an Australian Olympic Team. A piece of skill from outside back Pama Fou displayed at training goes viral with nearly 100,000 watching the clip on ARU TV's YouTube channel. Allan Fa'alava'au is granted his Australian citizenship, meaning he was available for selection for the remainder of the Sevens after being forced to miss the Gold Coast event.
The most successful month of the year for Australia. Geraint John took his squad over to Dubai a little earlier in order to rectify a previously woeful record at the event. Prior to the 2014/15 season, the Men's Sevens team hadn't reached a Cup Semi-Final in Dubai since the 2002/03 series. However, that changed this year - wins over Kenya, USA and England in pool play were preceded by a Cup Quarter-Final success over Scotland (22-17). In what proved the most memorable match of the season for the Aussies, Fiji scored three tries in the opening four minutes to lead by 19 points early on in the Semi-Finals only for Greg Jeloudev to ultimately steal the tie in extra-time (29-24). Australia ultimately succumbed to a red-hot South Africa (33-7) in the Cup Final but moved up to third in the World Series standings. Ed Jenkins and Cam Clark were named in the tournament Dream Team.
A week later, the series moved west to Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Not usually a tournament where Australia performs to its potential, the form-book was once again turned on its head. After qualifying from pool play after wins over Portugal and Zimbabwe, the Aussies defeated Fiji (31-19)in the Cup Quarter-Finals before surrendering a ten-point half-time lead to lose to hosts and eventual winners South Africa (19-10) in the Semi-Finals. Argentina were defeated (34-19) in the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off. Pama Fou scored an astonishing 11 tries over the course of the weekend - and with it a place in the tournament Dream Team.
Nineteen-year-old Bradley Wilkin joined the Australian Sevens program from the Queensland Reds Elite Development squad, beginning training with the squad on 5 January. "I'm looking forward to linking up with the boys," said Wilkin.
The review of the second half of the season to be continued tomorrow...