Format familiar for Aussie Sevens men

Chris Ford Profile
by Chris Ford

Rugby Sevens debut at the Rio Olympics will be a different format to the World Series but you won’t hear Australia complaining.

The usual two-day competition will be extended to a three-day format with the regular 16 team, 4 pool tournament reduced to 12 nations in three groups. 

Only Las Vegas somewhat replicated the Olympic format in the 2015/16 World Series.

“I think it helps us. The only other tournament we had like that was Las Vegas and we finished second in Vegas,” Australia coach Andy Friend said.

“We are used to that format and we have tried that format.

“I think that format is good for Sevens.”

Friend and Australia have left no stone unturned in their preparation for Rio, hosting a six-game warm-up series against Japan to replicate the Olympic competition less than two months ago. 

The team stayed in bunk bed rooms similar to the Athletes’ Village during the warm-up event and even simulated a bus breakdown to prepare the side in dealing with unusual circumstances.

“I think it works well for us,” playmaker Lewis Holland said.

“There are big breaks so when we play we need to be switched on.”

The drawn out competition allows greater time for player recovery, meaning the potential for less playing time for reserves. 

Australia have trained combinations heavily over a two-week training camp in Brazil with a starting seven firmly in mind.

“The guys that have been earmarked as the starting seven have definitely got the kilometres in their legs to go the distance but if we need to call on the reserves at any point they will be ready to go,” captain Ed Jenkins said.

“You need your strongest seven out there in most games if you’re going to walk away with that Gold medal.”

“We’re here to win a Gold medal but every team is here to do the same,” Friend said.

“We have improved since the World Series but I’m sure other teams have to.”

“Rugby Sevens is just who delivers on the day.”

Australia men’s Olympic campaign

Wednesday 10 August (12am AEST) against France

Wedneday 10 August (5am AEST) against Spain

Thursday 11th August (12.30am AEST) against South Africa