|Heavyweights tussle at Russia’s World Sevens
Russia unveiled the draw for what is set to be a fiercely-contested Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, where holders Wales will clash with sevens specialists Fiji in the group stages.
Favorites New Zealand should have few problems negotiating their Pool D against the United States, Canada and Georgia. The six men's groups will also pit France against Australia and hosts Russia in a tough Pool B against Japan, Scotland and heavyweights South Africa, AFP reports.
The World Cup will be the last edition before Rugby Sevens becomes a full Olympic sport at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The tournament, by far the biggest rugby event hosted by Russia, will be played at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, the centerpiece of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the expected venue of the football World Cup final in 2018.
The competition will also give a huge boost to rugby in Russia, whose sporting traditions give it great potential to become a big power but where the game is only just starting to make waves.
Wales were the shock winners of the last edition of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Dubai in 2009, when the four favorites were knocked out in the quarter-finals.
Fiji, winners of the Sevens World Cup in 1997 and 2005, will always be fair bet given the importance they stake on sevens, but Waisale Serevi, for many the greatest sevens player ever, said there were no longer any guarantees in a sport where the gaps between the teams have become ever narrower.
“There are no longer 'big teams' and 'small teams' in sevens, the margin is closing between all the teams,'' the Fijian maestro said.
Philippines will make its first appearance in a rugby World Cup. Kenya and Philippines have been drawn together in a potentially exciting group that also includes Zimbabwe and Samoa.