A European tournament in Bucharest will decide the final spots for the main event
Sevens World Cup 2022 qualifying: Players to watch
Sevens World Cup 2022 qualifying is nearly complete. This weekend, 12 European teams in both the men’s and women’s competition will play for one of the four remaining places in Cape Town.
That means there are several superb players who are yet to confirm their attendance in Cape Town this September, and they only have this weekend to change that.
Here are six players to look out for in what promises to be a tense, thrilling and season-defining two days in the Romanian capital.
Terry Kennedy (Ireland)
The leading try-scorer in the 2021-22 World Sevens Series (47), Kennedy is a threat whenever he gets the ball. His probing runs often start in innocuous fashion, perhaps with him meandering laterally as he searches for an opening, but regularly end with him accelerating through the defence for a spectacular score.
The 26-year-old is developing a knack of producing in key moments, as shown by his displays on Ireland’s road to the final of the France Sevens last May, and his last-gasp tries in London the following week.
Having played at the Olympics last year and at the 2018 World Cup, Kennedy possesses the big-stage experience to guide the men in green to another major global tournament.
Tobias Sainz-Trapaga (Spain)
Sainz-Trapaga’s power game could overwhelm opponents this weekend. More than merely a direct-running forward, the Spaniard uses his team-mates intelligently and is difficult to keep up with, courtesy of his long strides.
His work ethic and presence in defence will also be crucial if Spain, men’s Rugby Europe Sevens champions for 2022, are to make their first world cup since 2013.
Luke Treharne (Wales)
Wales captain Treharne can do it all. When standing at first-receiver, he can distribute or jink through tackles. If positioned out wide, he can use his pace or profit from team-mates’ breaks through his excellent support work. Once Wales touch down, he can be called upon to knock over the conversion.
He is effective on the other side of the ball, too. His tackle technique, aggressive but around the legs, should be printed in training manuals. At the breakdown, he uses his low centre-of-gravity to make vital turnovers.
A qualified doctor, the Welsh side is in rude health when Treharne is firing.
Amee-Lee Murphy Crowe (Ireland)
After impressive showings for Ireland over the first half of their 2022 Six Nations campaign, Murphy Crowe’s attention switched back to Sevens as the fight for World Cup qualification drew nearer. Echoing compatriot Kennedy, she topped the 2021-22 Sevens series try-scoring charts (36).
It is not hard to see why she is so potent. Murphy Crowe has the speed to create an opening from nothing, the strength to shrug off tacklers, and the intelligence to make well-timed support runs that lead to easy finishes.
Irish rugby did not hide their intention to prioritise sevens this year – it needs stars like Murphy Crowe to validate this strategy.
Abbie Brown (England)
Though not as dominant as their women’s XVs side, England will certainly expect to book their place in Cape Town this weekend.
Leading them in Bucharest will be Abbie Brown. Though only 26, she has won Commonwealth Games bronze, played at a World Cup and featured in two Olympics – including one as co-captain.
A strong all-round player, Brown is adept at eluding the clutches of defenders and made more tackles (37) than any other England player in this year’s World Sevens Series.
Malgorzata Koldej (Poland)
Poland defied history to win the women’s Rugby Europe Sevens Championship earlier this year. However, the presence of players like Koldej indicates that similar achievements should be expected going forward.
A former sprinter who only began playing rugby three years ago, Koldej’s searing pace earned her nine tries in the latest World Sevens Series. Give her the ball and a fraction of space, and even the most organised defences will be scrambling.
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