BlitzBokke face Russia in Moscow
February 28, 2013
South Africa was paired with Rugby World Sevens 2013 hosts, Russia, Scotland and Japan when the RWC draw was made in Moscow on Thursday.

The Springbok Sevens are the top seeds in Pool B for the RWC Sevens showpiece, which takes place over three days from 28-30 June at the world famous Luzhniki Olympic complex in the Russian capital.

The best 24 men’s and 16 women’s team will kick-off in this much anticipated global event, the first time a major Sevens event will be staged in Russia.

The draw was made on Thursday at Petroff Palace in the heart of the city in the presence of some of Russia’s most celebrated cosmonauts, Olympians and government representatives as well as Rugby’s top officials.

As expected, the pool allocation draw has thrown up some very exciting match-ups.

Hosts Russia will face a tough challenge in Pool B as they take on South Africa, Scotland and Japan while Pool C will witness another clash of neighbours as African countries Kenya and Zimbabwe battle it out along with Samoa and the Philippines, who became the first national team from their country to qualify for a World Cup.

Wales will face a tough battle to retain their men's crown, as they take on southern hemisphere rivals Fiji and Tonga along with Uruguay in Pool E.

Neighbours USA and Canada will clash in Pool D, alongside New Zealand and Georgia.

Elsewhere in the men's draw, Pool F has pitted England alongside Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong.

Pool A, D and F have three core teams from the HSBC Sevens World Series, while the other three have only two.

With just four months to go, everything is coming together with local organisers and teams alike busy preparing for what will be a fiesta of speed, power, grace and skill.

The decision to host the tournament in the Russian capital was part of the International Rugby Board’s development vision and commitment to grow the Game beyond its traditional heartlands.

The fact it will be held at the iconic Luzhniki Stadium is a further boost for the tournament as such high-profile events as the Olympic Games and UEFA Champions League final have already been staged there.

The three-day event will be an incredible experience for sports fans from Russia and around the world as a top-level international Rugby tournament is staged in Moscow for the very first time.

Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, said his team was looking forward to the biggest Sevens tournament.

“It is never easy to play the hosts and Russia will be very tough to beat in front of their home fans,” said Treu. “We’ve seen them cause many upsets the past few seasons and they must rank as one of the strongest non-core World Series teams.

“There are so much to play for in Sevens rugby nowadays. The HSBC Sevens World Series is now much more competitive, teams are playing to secure core status while everyone is gearing up for the Olympics in 2016.

“The Rugby World Cup Sevens is a once off tournament, it happens only once every four years and the fact that it will now be played at the end of the season means all the teams will be very strong.

“For us though, a huge motivating factor will be the fact that we’ve never done well at previous RWC tournaments. Our approach will be very different this time around. SARU and our management team have done a lot of planning for this tournament and our aim is to win,” explained Treu.

Springbok Sevens captain, Frankie Horne, said he expect all participating teams to send their very best squad to Moscow. “The previous RWC, in 2009 in Dubai, was extremely tough and the tournament in Russia promises to be even harder,” said Horne. “With the World Series now spread over nine tournaments plus a prestigious RWC at the end of the season to look forward to, it is no wonder that the standard of Sevens rugby is nowadays so much higher.”

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset, who was in Moscow for the draw, said: "As we continue to look forward to Rugby Sevens' Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016, I am confident that Moscow 2013 will be a resounding success. "Planning and preparation is on track. Russia has a proud history of staging exceptional major sporting and cultural events and the RUR and the Russian Government will deliver a world-class festival on and off the pitch. It will be a Rugby World Cup Sevens festival like no other."

The men’s event is split into six pools of four teams with the top team from each pool, together with the two best runners-up progressing to Cup quarter-finals. The defending champions are Wales.

The six pools for the men’s event are as follows:

Pool A: Australia, France, Spain, Tunisia
Pool B: South Africa, Scotland, Russia, Japan
Pool C: Samoa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Philippines
Pool D: New Zealand, USA, Canada, Georgia
Pool E: Fiji, Wales, Tonga, Uruguay
Pool F: England, Argentina, Portugal, Hong Kong