Hype meets reality in Brisbane. Billed as one of the great sevens tournaments it proved to be something less than that. A completely incoherent presentation of schedules and results made it almost impossible to follow what was happening. When the smoke cleared, Australia with a much bigger squad beat Fiji in the final 24 – 10, while Sweden as far as I can see finished in 11th/12th position, a bit lower than at least I had hoped for.
Sweden started off in a pool along with England, South Africa and Papua New Guinea (PPG). The Sunshine Coast unfortunately provided pouring rain for Day 1 and this obviously detracted from the playing standard. England with a strong team outclassed Sweden 40 – 0 in their first game. In the second one quite a strong South African team dominated for long periods but good Swedish tackling kept the score to 12 – 5. Sweden put up a much better performance in their final match on Day 1, beating PNG 32 – 0. Some strong running from several Swedish players. The games against SA and PNG were both screened, but not I think the English game. Sweden defended well against SA, but their attacking was non-existent. Dropped passes and aimless kicking especially in the second half meant that they remained pinned in their own half. Their one try came from a fine outside break by Tova. They proved physically stronger than PNG, however, and five different try scorers showed what they could do.
These results put Sweden in the 9 – 16 group for Day 2, when the weather was much better. They started off against Poland whom they have battled against in Europe and did well to win 20 – 12. Not streamed so no details. They then met Macquarrie University, in the SF of the Bowl one of the four Aussie teams bringing the number of participating teams up to 16. Each of these teams fielded youngish players, although Macquarrie were perhaps the pick of the bunch. Sweden started of well and were up 14 – 0 in no time. But then they seemed to collapse, their strong defence nowhere to be seen. Macquarrie had a couple of speedsters and they scored at will thereafter, the final count being 38 – 14. This put Sweden 11th/12th of 16 teams, probably below what they were hoping for..
Of the other long-distance travellers, Wales showed up quite well, primarily due to their outstanding winger Jasmine James. She also beat Sweden single-handed in the European GP last year. Macquarrie showed their worth once again by beating Wales 17 – 14 in the Bowl final.
Once again England started off well but then flattered to deceive. They lost 20 – 10 to a not very impressive French Development squad and missed out on the top four. Then, against a useful Spanish side they only got home 12 – 10 in the dying seconds. They finished 5th,
Fiji, with a couple of powerful runners cruised along quite comfortably and made it to the final after beating Spain and French Development. The Australian Pearls, the Oz development team, started off on Day 1 with nothing like their national team but they had a large squad and gradually strengthened the team with a few top players throughout the tournament. They pulled away in the final to beat an exhausted Fijiana. Not exactly a level playing field, however. South Africa showed up and down form, but were still strong enough to take 3rd place in front of France Development.
Was it worth Sweden making this long and expensive trip? First of all we should be told who has paid for the trip. If the players made a substantial contribution themselves and only a small amount has come through the Union, then I think we could say it was just about worth it. Two wins out of five against strong opposition was not bad, although there was no evidence that the team could raise its game when required. If the selectively generous Union picked up the tab, it was not worth it and more typical of the hypocrisy with which the Union is riddled. Clarification, please!
Pool A: South Africa 22-0 PNG; England 40-0 Sweden; South Africa 12-5 Sweden; England 57-0 PNG; Sweden 32-0 PNG; England 31-0 South Africa
Pool B: USA 19-5 Poland; France Development 31-0 Wales; USA 26-17 Wales; France Development 17-7 Poland; USA 22-5 France Development; Poland 10-33 Wales
Pool C: Fiji 24-7 QAS2; Australia 27-0 QAS1; Spain 39-0 Macquarrie; Japan 19-10 Tribe
Bowl/Shield: QAS2 0-27 Macquarrie; QAS1 15-5 Tribe; Sweden 20-12 Poland; PNG 7-22 Wales
Shield SF: Poland 24-5 QAS2; Tribe 21-24 PNG
Shield Final: Poland 22-10 PNG
Bowl SF: Macquarrie 38-14 Sweden; Wales 22-19 QAS1
Bowl Final: Macquarrie 17-14 Wales
Cup/Plate QF: Fiji 10-5 Spain; Australia 31-5 Japan; England 10-20 France Development; USA 19-21 South Africa
Plate SF: Spain 10-12 England; Japan 28-12 USA
Plate Final: England 45-10 Japan
Cup SF: Fiji 35-17 France Development; Australia 38-5 South Africa
Third place; South Africa 29-14 France Development
Final: Australia 24-10 Fiji