London Sevens: Pressure off New Zealand for World Series finale

All Blacks Sevens captain DJ Forbes is looking to have some fun in the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at Twickenham

By Gareth Llewellyn

New Zealand skipper DJ Forbes insists that the pressure is off the All Blacks Sevens when they line up at Twickenham this weekend.

Sir Gordon Tietjens’ men go into the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in third place, nine points off leaders Fiji after their injury-ravaged squad lost 24-17 to the Pacific Islanders in the Cup final of the Glasgow Sevens.

We’ve got one week now to have a bit of fun, and just try and get a win in the World Series.

DJ Forbes

But they need the wheels to come off Fiji’s unstoppable wagon and South Africa to have a disastrous weekend if they are to land a 13th title.

With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro set to welcome sevens rugby into its family, the primary objective for the sport’s most successful nation this season was to secure one of the four automatic qualification places.

That objective was ticked off on Sunday morning in Glasgow when fifth-place Australia lost to the USA in the Cup quarter-finals before New Zealand faced hosts Scotland, and with one round of the World Series remaining, Forbes admits New Zealand will be looking to have some fun in London this weekend.

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New Zealand celebrate Rio 2016 qualification in Glasgow Photo: World Rugby/Martin Seras Lima

“When we sat down at the start of the World Series, the first objective was Olympic qualification and the second one was the World Series,” Forbes said.

“We’ve still got a shot at the World Series, and Olympic qualification means there’s a little bit of pressure off our backs.

“We’ve got one week now to have a bit of fun, and just try and get a win in the World Series.

“We’ve not had as many Cup wins as we would have liked, but we’ve still managed to put ourselves in with a chance.

“It could all go down to the wire again.”

Forbes admits that Scotland has been good to New Zealand over the years ahead of an announcement this week on the future of the Glasgow event set to be confirmed by World Rugby.

With 25 countries applying to host a round of the HSBC Sevens World Series for the next four seasons, the Scottish Rugby Union expects to lose its event to Paris after nine years.

I’m pretty stoked that Scotland has always been a great venue and we’ve had some pretty good success here.

DJ Forbes

Scottish Rugby is also conducting a review of its sevens programme with the loss of revenue expected to eat into the costs of running a full-time sevens team, despite accommodation, travel and food costs being met by World Rugby.

France first hosted a round in the inaugural World Series at the 20,000 capacity Stade Sébastien Charléty in Paris 15 years ago.

A three-year stint saw the French Rugby Federation host the event at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux in 2004, returning to Paris at the 12,000 Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris for 2005 and 2006 before the Scottish Rugby took over in 2007, with the Scotland Sevens event initially held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh before moving to the much smaller Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow four years ago.

Forbes believes the size of venue is not important as long as it is full, but concedes that it is up to the tournament organisers to determine where the players go on the circuit.

“Scotland always turn it on for us,” he added.

“It’s always a pleasure playing here.

“You could have 70,000 like at Twickenham or 20,000. If you’ve got the right size stadium and you can fill it up, it always gets the atmosphere going.

“As long as it’s a full house and everyone really gets into it you don’t really notice a difference.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s the big dogs making the calls on where it should be played, all the little things in terms of resources and things that make up which venue should be selected.

“I’m pretty stoked that Scotland has always been a great venue and we’ve had some pretty good success here – not this time around, but we’re pretty grateful.

“There’s a proud history here and where sevens started in terms of Scotland. The fans always turn out.

“It’s disappointing that after Scotland bowed out they all went home, but we still had the grandstand going hard, and hopefully we put on a show to keep them happy.

“I’m well aware of the proud rugby nation that Scotland is – similar to New Zealand.

“For us, we’re privileged to play anywhere around the world.”

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