The term “Pool of Death” can lose its meaning nowadays. That’s not to say that there are easy brackets. With the spread of rugby, and increased competition, easy routes to the quarters are near nonexistent.
In this weekend’s HSBC Sevens World Series in S. Africa,the USA is pooled with Samoa (in 2nd place on the series), Fiji (3rd), and Namibia. The US is 7th. Pool of Death anyone?
First up is Samoa and the last time these team met, the score went 38-5 against the US side, making it 1-13 against Samoa historically.
Fiji may be the easier game on paper, but that’s not to say at all we’ll win it.Fiji can rattle through a defence just as well as Samoa when they’re on form, but if their more common mistakes are exploited, the US may be in with a fighting chance. The USA last defeated Fiji in Wellington in 2009 by a score of 15-10 and have an all-time record of 2-12 against the other island nation.
The final opponent is Namibia. The two teams have only ever met once, where the African side took the US side to task back in 2003 with a 35-10 victory. However, the US side has progressed hugely since then, and this should be an easy win, as well as a good test of their form when the side doesn’t have to fire on all cylinders.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the USA will have to really pull off an upset to get even as far as the quarterfinals. The side are also in the awkward position of being good enough that they can no longer ‘sneak up’ on unprepared teams, but not so revered that they won’t be wearing the tag of the dark horse team all the way through. Certainly a competition not to be missed.
Stay tuned to Rugby America for updates on the action.