New Zealand the ones to beat in round two

(IRB.COM) Thursday 31 January 2013
 New Zealand the ones to beat in round two
South African flyer Zenay Jordaan will thrill the crowds in Houston

The stage is set for an exciting second round of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series in Houston, Texas, this weekend. The competition, which kicks off at the BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday, will see the world’s leading women’s Sevens players in action across two days.


New Zealand lead the standings after their impressive win in Dubai in round one, but they will certainly be chased hard this weekend by a strengthened England, a rapidly improving South Africa, the world champion Australia side and a Canadian outfit desperate to make up for their under-performance in December.

The second round of the Series comes just five months before Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 takes place in Moscow, with all sides now looking to make significant improvements as the countdown continues.

Pool A will provide a real treat for what’s expected to be a big crowd, with New Zealand and England going head to head and with the Netherlands more than capable of toppling their more fancied rivals.

Newcomers Trinidad and Tobago face a tough baptism of fire in this pool but get a great opportunity to test themselves against the best. 

Titanic battles

This pool will see a raft of leading players take to the field and watch out for returning New Zealand duo Kelly Brazier and Kendra Cocksedge, who are back in action this weekend and sure to play a key role.

Pool B sees hosts USA take on their traditional rivals Canada, and with those two sides having shared some titanic battles over the past year on the Sevens circuit, their clash will be a real highlight for the home crowd.

Also in the mix are South Africa, the finalists and surprise package from Dubai, and their progress will be of real interest. South American newcomers Argentina are also in the mix, coached as they are by Santiago Gomez Cora, the all-time leading try-scorer in IRB Sevens rugby.

Players to watch in this pool include South Africa flier Zenay Jordaan, Canada captain Jen Kish and rising USA star Deven Owsiany.

Pool C sees Australia, Brazil, Japan and Russia battle it out. The Australians will be defending their Rugby World Cup Sevens crown in Russia later this year and even without star players Emilee Cherry and Rebecca Tavo they will certainly be a real threat.

Russia’s physicality will cause every side problem with the likes of Navrat Khamidova really stepping up in recent months, while Japan and Brazil are looking to continue their improvement at this level.