Chile 7s Preview
January 2, 2002

The International Rugby Board World Sevens Series returns to South
America after a one-season break, when some of the best 16 nations in
the world meet in beautiful Santiago to compete in the second leg of the
2002 Series.

Match action on Friday January 4th and Saturday 5th will be
at the Universidad Católica Stadium, in San Carlos de Apoquindo, nested
under the Andes mountains.

After successfully organising the IRB/FIRA-AER Junior World Cup in April
2001, when the chance came to join in the Sevens Series, the Federación
de Rugby de Chile took the chance with both hands. Their reward - a
mouth watering prospect of hosting the best in the rugby business.

With Mar del Plata, the next stop in the Series, hosting the Rugby World
Cup Sevens almost a year ago, the Series missed its two South American
stops in 2001. Back on the circuit, the hungry local crowds will be able
to enjoy what promises to be a huge challenge for those teams trying to
dethrone reigning champions New Zealand.

The New Zealand Sevens team will again be led by the evergreen Eric
Rush, whose last second try gave them a win in the final of the Durban
tournament last November. Aged 36 and wearing his accustomed number 2
jersey, "Rushie" might be reaching his final days as an active player,
but is always looking forward to the next challenge. He will have in
Orene Ai'í, Damian Karauna and Craig de Goldi able lieutenants.

Also wearing his customary number 6 jersey will be Fijian Waisele
Serevi, who leads a side that did not perform to expectations in the
last few months, and that will try to resurrect their stature in South
America. It will be an experienced side, with the likes of Jope Tuikabe
and Marika Vunibaka assisting the magic of Serevi.

But there is more to the equation: bring in Samoa, who under Romeo Ah
Chong developed enormously and was seconds away from victory in Durban,
or even the Australians who always unearth new talent.

With the Commonwealth Games at the end of the Sevens season, teams that
will be involved in Manchester (which also include Canada, South Africa,
Wales and England) will see the Series as a great way of preparing their

The tournament is also very important to promote local talent.

Home side Chile will have to work hard to succeed in their pool. Their
star player Nicolás Arancibia has returned from South Africa to play in
the tournament. Veteran Bernardo García will lead the side that will
definitely challenge for the Bowl, having won the same trophy at RWC 7s

Argentina, a regular of the Series and a host tournament, enjoyed recent
fifteens success as well as some at sevens, with Samoa needing extra
time to beat them in Durban. They will continue to push every opponent
to the limit.

Uruguay have an under strength squad. Their last two visits to Santiago
were unhappy: in 2000 they finished fourth in the RWC 2001 Qualifying
tournament and missed RWC and in 2001 Chile beat them for the first time
since 1976 at fifteens.

Paraguay and Brazil will benefit from the privilege of playing amongst
such company, with the Brazilians resting those who will meet Trinidad &
Tobago later this month in a RWC 2003 qualifying game.

A first time visitor in South America will be West Indies, with the best
Caribbean talent available, including Bermuda captain Bobby Hurdle and
T&T speedster Mark Hamilton.

This will be the fourth international Sevens Tournament staged in Chile.
In 1998 (in Viña del Mar) and 1999 (Santiago) Eric Rush lead the All
Blacks to victory. In May 2002 Canada won the Americas Qualifying round,
with Chile finishing second and USA third out of ten American nations.

Very much South American style, matches will finish past midnight on
both days.

The Pools:
Pool A: New Zealand, Wales, Canada, Paraguay.
Pool B: Australia, Argentina, USA, Brazil.
Pool C: South Africa, England, France, Uruguay.
Pool D: Samoa, Fiji, Chile, West Indies.

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