There are three important international sevens tournaments this weekend.
South American Championship (Carlos Paz, Cordoba, Argentina)
The fifteenth South American Sevens Championship takes place this weekend (18-19th February).
The usual eight teams are taking part – Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru – with 13-times champion Brazil the overwhelming favourites.
So wide is – and always has been – the gulf between Brazil and everyone else that it is noteworthy triumph for any team to score a try against them. Suffice to say no Brazilian team in this tournament has ever lost a game. The only time Brazil did not win was in 2015, when they did not enter as that year’s championship doubled as an Olympic qualifier, and Brazil had already qualified.
However, there is more at stake this weekend than the question of who comes second. The best team, other than Brazil, will qualify for the next round of the Women’s Sevens World Series in Las Vegas (March 3-5) – a level that only Argentina and Colombia have tasted in the past. In addition, the runner-up and third-placed teams will also qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series qualifier for 2017-18, which will be held in Hong Kong on 7-9 April.
On Saturday the teams play in their pools, which will decide the seedings for Sunday’s quarter-finals. The draw (based on the outcome of last year’s tournament in Deodoro, Brazil) is:
Pool 'A': Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Pool 'B': Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru.
Argentina were the runners-up in 2016, and – with the help of home soil – are favourites to repeat that feat. With their experience of the Olympics, Colombia would be expected to repeat last year’s third place finish – but these placings invariably come down to who can avoid a semi-final with Brazil, which would appear (if games go to form) to make the final game of the day on Saturday between Argentina and Colombia possibly the most crucial of the weekend.
Fixtures: 13:00 Venezuela - Paraguay ; 13:22 Brazil - Uruguay ; 13:44 Colombia - Chile ; 14:06 Argentina - Peru ; 15:30 Venezuela - Uruguay ; 15:52 Brazil - Paraguay ; 16:14 Colombia - Peru ; 16:36 Argentina - Chile ; 17:45 Paraguay - Uruguay ; 18:07 Brazil - Venezuela ; 18:29 Chile - Peru ; 18:51 Argentina - Colombia
On Sunday, the Quarterfinals will begin at 1pm with the Gold Final scheduled for 18:51.
Argentina: Mayra Aguilar (La Querencia), Noelia Billerbeck (CAPRI), Eugenia Botelli (Argentino), Magalí Fazzi (La Plata RC), Isabel Fontanarrosa (Cardinals), Mayra Genghini (Marabunta), Sofía González (SITAS), Valeria Montero Villa Gesell), Yamila Otero (Naval Center), Josefina Padellaro (Neuquén RC), María Paula Pedrozo (CAPRI) and Deborah Fretes (Alma Jr).
Staff: Daniel Villen (Coach), Mariano Bein (PF) and María Vago (Physiotherapist).
Brazil: Beatriz Futuro (Niteroi), Bianca Santos Silva (São José), Claudia Teles (Niterói), Edna Santini (São José), Isadora Cerullo (Niterói), Juliana Michele Carneiro da Silva (Curitiba), Lariane Prunner (Desterro) Luiza Gonzalez Campos (Charrua), Maíra Bravo (SPAC), Milena Silva (São José), Paula Ishibashi (SPAC) and Raquel Kochhann (Charrua).
Staff: Reuben Samuel (Coach), Gabriel Cenamo (Manager), Lourivaldo Alves (PF), Aristide Guerriero (trainer).
Chile. Natalie Patricia Badilla Álvarez (Old Red), Barbara Andrea Lira Veloso (Old Red), Daniela Marcela Rojas Muñoz (Goliath), Daniela Paola Corral-Rudloff (Panthers), Carla Andrea Jorquera Arriagada (VARC), Gisel Castañeda Isla , Paula Fernanda Contreras Pérez (Viña Rugby), Fernanda Nicole Maldonado Labbé (Stade Francais), Judith Stefany Torres Bravo (University of Concepción), Damaris Abigail Saavedra Painemil (Wallmapu), Jacqueline Johana Rilling Heinz (Wallmapu), and Daniela Ninoska Baeza Fuentes (Wallmapu).
Staff: Bernard Charreyre and Cristián Isla (coaches).
Colombia: Claudia Alejandra Betancur, Laura Melissa Osorio Jiménez, Laura González González, Nicole Acevedo Tangarife, María Camila Lopera, Cindy Solangie Delgado, Ángela Lozano Cárdenas, Catalina Arango Arango, Isabel Cristina Romero Benítez, Estefanía Ramírez, Laura Andrea García, Sharon Acevedo Tangarife .
Staff: Mario Ernesto Urrego Ruales (Coach) and Paola Andrea Pereira Lopez (Delegate).
Paraguay: María Verónica Paredes, Nadia Belén Bileski Canadey, Paula Lorena Denis Mario, Liz Mariela Gamba Ortíz, Claudia Karina Fernández González, Lucero Magalí Viveros Martínez, Cintia Janet Cristaldo Santander, Maira Abigail Méndez Cristaldo, Natalia Justiniano, Ingrid Natalia Alfonso Aquino, Gabriela Monserrat Cáceres Ovelar, Keila Ester Bordón Díaz.
Staff: Miguel Seró (trainer), Victor Silvero Barrios (PF), Liz Paola Páez Feltes (physiotherapist)
Peru. Andrea Masias, Brenda Llanos, Karoline Vergara Henderson, Lieneke Ratto Schol, Lucy Granda Alvarado, Melissa Vargas De La Jara, Michelle Flores Cordero, Natalia Correa Cornejo, Rosemary Quesada Guzmán, Vannia Ormeño, Allison Pereyra Pachas, Milagros Romero.
Staff: Pablo Vila (Technical) and Ximena Choy (PF).
Uruguay: Fernanda Tejera (CTM - Capitana), Estefania Pérez (Veterinarian), Eugenia Hugo (Veterinary), Dahianne Tellechea (Champagnat), Loreley Martínez (Trouville), Tatiana Merli (CTM), Leonor Sosa (Trouville), Jennifer Stugelmayer ), Lucia Brum (CTM), Pamela Siffer (Champagnat), Yessica Cardozo (Champagnat), and Maria Eugenia Cruces (CTM).
Staff: Julian Estefan (Head Coach), Lucia Calvo (Coach), Vivian Trzeinsky (Manager) and Juan Zaragoza (Physiotherapist)
Venezuela: Ana Fernández (Mérida RC), Carla Lanzarote (RC Gazelles), Cristy Egido (RC Gazelles), Daniela Diaz (UCV RFC), Ingrid Griffin (Angeles CRUM), Jetsy Ferrera , Marianny Izarza (RC Gazelles), Maryoly Gámez (UCAB RC), Yolanda Pérez (Mérida RC), Nardelys Alvarado (RC Gazelles), and Caring De Freitas (Lindewood University).
Staff: Marisell Méndez (entrandor) and Ernesto Requena (PF).
Japan start gearing up for the 2020 Olympic Sevens with an international invitational sevens Okinawa Sevens, at Zampa Ball Park near Torii Station on the island of Okinawa this weekend. And it’s a powerful line-up with six teams taking part, including Japan (A and B), Australia, France, Netherlands and the United States, who will compete in single round-robin pool to be followed by classification games for 5th, 3rd and 1st.
Most of the visiting teams will be using the tournament to try out their development squads, though perhaps the most interesting to watch for will be Netherlands who are making their first steps to return to the top level of international sevens after the disappointments of their Olympic campaign.
France: Coralie Bertrand (Stade Toulousain); Pauline Bourdon (AS Bayonne); Caroline Drouin (Stade Rennais); Blandine Gadioux (Stade Bordelais ASPTT); Joanna Grisez (AC Bobigny); Gaëlle Hermet (Stade Toulousain); Nassira Konde (Terres de France); Séraphine Okemba (Saracens); Charlène Teisseyre (Montpellier RC); Madouss Traore (AC Bobigny); Jennifer Troncy (Montpellier RC / FFR); Yolaine Yengo (Stade Rennais)
Netherlands: Anne Hielckert; Annemarije van Rossum; Elke van Meer; Erin Arends; Jannicke IJdens; Joyce van Altena; Jordan Heil; Linde van der Velden; Marit Bakker; Marscha Völker; Pleuni Kievit; Sanne Klem; Willemijn ter Avest
Day 1- Feb. 18: 9 a.m. - Australia vs. Japan B; 9:30 a.m. – USA vs. Japan A; 10 a.m. – France vs. Nederland; Noon – Australia vs. Japan A; 12:30 p.m. – Nederland vs. Japan B; 1 p.m. – USA vs. France; 3 p.m. – Australia vs. Nederland; 3: 30 p.m. – France vs. Japan A; 4 p.m. – USA vs. Japan B;
Day 2 – Feb. 19: 9 a.m. – Australia vs. France; 9:30 a.m. – USA vs. Nederland; 10 a.m. – Japan A vs. Japan B; 11:30 a.m. - Australia vs. USA; Noon – France vs. Japan B; 12:30 p.m. – Nederland vs. Japan A; 3 p.m. – Fifth-place match; 3:30 p.m. – Third-place match; 4 p.m. – Final
Asia Womens Sevens Trophy (Vientiane, Laos)
Playing on Friday and Saturday, this is a development tournament for Asia’s rising nations and will include teams from South Korea, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan with the winner securing a spot in the three-leg Asian Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which will be played between 1st September to 14th October 2017 with the top two teams from that tournament qualifying for the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
With its vast population, Indian rugby has the potential to become a major force in Asian women’s rugby. The number of registered players has grown from 5,355 in 2012 to 42,032 in 2016, and after the third place achieved by their team in the Asian U18s in Dubai funding is beginning to come their way thanks to a sponsorship deal with Societe Generale.
While India have ambitions for silverware in Vientiane, for neighbours Pakistan it is still very much the taking part that matters as this will be their first ever appearance in an official Asia Rugby tournament. Well behind the other teams on experience and funding, this will be a major learning opportunity for the team.
Pakistan join South Korea, Nepal and Laos in one pool on Friday, with India, Philippines and Malaysia in the other.