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Rugby sevens preview

31 July 2002

The rugby sevens tournament promises to provide an explosive and exciting finale to Games action at the City of Manchester Stadium.

England's rugby sevens team

England's rugby sevens team are looking to capitalise on their Hong Kong Sevens success

Sixteen teams, divided into four pools, will play round-robin matches on Friday 2 August in the evening and Saturday 3 August in the afternoon, followed by the knock-out phase later on Saturday evening and Sunday 4 August in the afternoon.

Each match consists of two seven-minute halves.

All of the world’s leading rugby union nations, except France, Argentina and Italy, are represented. The winners in Kuala Lumpur four years ago, New Zealand, are favourites to retain their title in Manchester, having recently been crowned the 2002 World Sevens Series champions.

However, they are sure to be pushed hard by host nation England, boosted by vociferous home support. Their campaign gets under way against the Cook Islands in the curtain-raiser match on Friday 2 August in the afternoon. New Zealand take the field for the first time against Canada.

South Africa, Australia and Fiji are also in the running for medals.

Most of the 12-man squads consist predominantly of young talent, groomed as specialists in the seven-man game and yet to make their mark on the international stage in 15-man rugby.

Some nations, however, have included key individuals from the top drawer of the international game to provide experience and edge under pressure.

Among the big names in this category are: Henry Paul and Phil Greening (ENG), Robert Howley and Dafydd James (WAL), and Eric Rush (NZL).

Info News Service/sm/pjt

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