There are now less than two months to go until Los Angeles hosts the grand finale of the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022, and the race to be crowned champions could not be closer.
Rescheduled due to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tickets have gone on sale for the HSBC LA Sevens, which will take place at Dignity Health Sports Park between 27-28 August.
Four teams will head to LA with a chance of ending the weekend as men’s Series champions, thanks to the COVID-specific points system that applies to the current season.
Each team’s end of season total is calculated by taking their best seven results from across the year. That means South Africa, who won the first four tournaments of the 2022 Series, currently lead the way on 124 points, while Australia are two points behind and Argentina a further four adrift.
Fiji are fourth on 104 points but the system in place in 2022 ensures that they retain a shot at claiming a fifth men’s Series crown despite missing the tournaments in Malaga and Seville at the start of the year.
Ahead of the final tournament of the year, South Africa hold their destiny in their own hands.
It'll go down to the wire in L.A.— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) May 30, 2022
This season, the best seven results will be used for the final men's Series standings, leaving @Blitzboks, @Aussie7s, @lospumas and @fijirugby all fighting for the crown 👑@Capgemini | #HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/CLpmca9GqU
The Blitzboks, who won the most recent Series to be played in a Rugby World Cup Sevens year in 2018, would wrap up a fifth men’s title if they reach the final in LA.
A silver or gold medal performance in August would give them a points tally that none of the other challengers could match.
Were South Africa to finish fourth or lower, then the door would be left ajar for Australia, who could claim the Series title by winning the final tournament of the season.
Should Australia claim gold in LA and the Blitzboks take third, however, the two teams would finish the season level on points. In that scenario, the title would go to the side with the biggest points difference across their seven best tournaments.
To have any chance of winning the Series crown both Argentina and Fiji need to win the HSBC LA Sevens and hope that other results go their way.
For the double Olympic champions to finish atop the standings, Fiji must claim gold and hope South Africa finish seventh or lower and Australia gain no more than 15 points.
Argentina, on the other hand, would need the Blitzboks to miss out on the quarter-finals altogether and Australia make it no further than the last eight.
South Africa have finished no higher than fifth at any Series event since winning their fourth and most recent tournament of 2022 in Seville in January.
LA Pool draw
If they are to win the overall crown then they will have to do it the hard way, having been drawn in a stacked Pool B alongside New Zealand, the USA and Canada.
Australia and Argentina can put a considerable dent in each other’s title hopes, meanwhile, as they will line up in opposition in Pool A, together with Spain and Japan.
Fiji must navigate Pool C, which consists of Ireland, France and Wales, if they are to keep their Series challenge on track, while Pool D – featuring Samoa, England, Scotland and Kenya – is the only one that doesn’t include any of the title hopefuls.
Whoever comes out on top in LA will receive a timely boost ahead of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 in Cape Town on 9-11 September.
Blitzboks captain Siviwe Soyizwapi is confident his side can get over the line in LA and give departing coach Neil Powell a fitting send-off.
"It's been a long season, and we started off really well. It was always going to be tough to keep that consistency," Soyizwapi said earlier this month.
"I think we just deviated from our focus as a group and all the effort and implementation of the processes and game plan.
"It's all about shifting back and moving our focus to what works for us. And I think you could see with our performances in London that there's a shift in focus. We'll take a lot of confidence from that and take it into LA."