With only two days to go until the start of the 21st Commonwealth Games, it only makes sense to write this blog post on Glasgow 2014.
The Commonwealth Games is the third largest multi-sport event in the world, after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games. Glasgow will be the 18th city the competition has been held in, having previously been held twice in Scotland – both times in Edinburgh. Only countries from the Commonwealth of Nations are able to compete. However, even though there are only 53 members in the Commonwealth of Nations, 70 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games due to a number of Brittish overseas territories, Crown dependencies and island states compete under their own flag. Unlike when competing in the Olympic games, the Home Nations of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – send separate teams.
Australia have dominated the overall medal table at the Commonwealth Games, having topped the chart at 12 games. The only other two teams to have topped the chart are England (six times), and Canada who have managed once.
From a rugby point of view, this will be the 5th time Sevens Rugby will feature at the games. It will be hosted at Ibrox Stadium, which is the home of the football team Glasgow Rangers, and has a capacity of 51,082.
A total of 45 games will be contested across two days (26th and 27th July) of fierce competition at Ibrox Stadium in a fast and furious contest which requires teamwork, skill and stamina as two teams with seven athletes on a full sized pitch go toe to toe for glory in games lasting just 14 minutes.
It is hard to see anyone barring New Zealand come away with the gold -having won all previous Commonwealth Games 7’s titles. Therefore, if anyone is to challenge the Kiwis for the title, they are going to have to up their game massivley.
New Zealand have once again brought an extremely experienced squad with players such as DJ Forbes, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson who were all part of the team who won the competition 4 years ago in Dehli. Furthermore, Declan O’Donell and Pita Ahki were part of the squad who currently hold the Sevens World Cup after beating England 33-0 in the final in Moscow in 2013.
Sadly for Scotland, they have drawn New Zealand in the group stages. If they are to even stand a chance against them they will have to be at the top of their game. Scotland have brought a strong squad to the games with Scottish Rugby Union Internationalists such as Sean Lamont and Richie Vernon both representing. Furthermore, British and Irish Lions winner Stuart Hogg will also be pulling on the Macron Scotland Sevens jersey.
The talent doesn’t stop there though, with half of the squad being made up of Glasgow Warriors players - who were part of the team that made it to the Pro12 Final this year – there is a real sense of belief that Scotland can show what they can do. Scotland go into this tournament after a successful warm up tournament down in London, having only narrowly lost 12-10 in the final to England at the Allianz Park.
Joining Scotland and New Zealand in Pool A are Canada and Barbados. With the top 2 in each pool progressing, there is a real sense of hope and expectation for Scotland to do so, especially in front of the home crowd!
There has been some discontent that the draw has unfairly favoured the home nations of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The most noise has been generated by Australia in Pool D who feel their fixture list leaves them disadvantaged - two fixtures early in the day before England have even touched a ball, then the Aussies face an eight hour lay off until their final fixture kicks off at 21.48. Unsurprisingly the team will be making their way back to the Athletes Village for some rest & recovery before returning to Ibrox.
All in all, the Commonwealth Games has been something that Glasgow and Scotland has been excited about for many years now and it is finally almost time for it to commence. Let’s hope it is a great spectacle for all. But, most importantly, that the Sevens Rugby is a great couple of days for all rugby fanatics to enjoy!
Follow us on twitter where we'll be keeping you up to date with results and news from the Commonwealth Games Sevens all weekend.
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