Robinson: World Cup set to be spectacular

(IRB.COM) Friday 28 June 2013  
 Robinson: World Cup set to be spectacular
Kelly Brazier is one of the players who has impressed Melodie Robinson ahead of RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow.

On the eve of the women’s competition at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, two-time Women's Rugby World Cup winning Black Fern and now commentator Melodie Robinson gives us her view on what we can expect from the teams and players.

When you look at the progress of the Women’s Game since the last World Cup in 2009, it has been phenomenally positive. Women’s Sevens is almost a different game to what it was then and this season’s World Series has taken the game on again to a new level.

What I have loved this season, apart from just seeing the Series get up and running so well, is also seeing girls from other sports taking up Sevens and coming into rugby because our Game is now a viable path to the Olympics.

What it means is that rugby is now competing with every other sport for players and that’s fantastic. Back in New Zealand talent transfer is a big part of the ongoing Sevens programme and in the form of Portia Woodman and Kayla McAlister – who are both former netballers – there’s great evidence that the crossover can work incredibly well.

Here in Moscow the excitement is building for all 16 women’s teams.  The city is fantastic and the teams I have spoken to are really enjoying the build-up and the facilities here.

I have been impressed with the form of a number of sides over the last season.

Teams in form

I will start with Ireland. They haven’t played that much Sevens and yet every tournament they have been to, they have been really impressive. I like the style they play – they play a power game and not many teams try and play like that and it makes them quite special. They could beat anybody.

In Dubai, South Africa were fantastic and they are a very quick team with great ball skills. I am not sure they have it in them yet to go all the way here, but if they continue to get support from their union they could go very far.  

Canada are another strong team to look out for. The final they were involved in in Amsterdam recently was one of the best finals I have ever seen in the men’s and women’s game.

Earlier this year on the Series, England in Houston were incredible and they are such a great team of athletes. They are probably the best conditioned side on the circuit and they are just really impressive. They are big and strong and hard to play against and they are probably the favourites here.

I really enjoy watching Russia play and I think they are such a great story as a team in how they have progressed. They are a physically imposing side and out wide they have players who can kill teams with their pace. Their fitness has come on hugely and Pavel has done a great job with them.

As the defending champions you would expect Australia to be in mix here as well. I think they have got some awesome young talent but I also think their team is still a little too new to win it here and they are looking more at the longer term picture.

New Zealand were the Series winners and for me, a likely final would be themselves and England. New Zealand’s programme is still relatively new and they are progressing really well.

Players to watch

I also want to pick out a few players to watch out for here.

Rebecca Tavo from Australia is an unbelievable player and has the 2009 experience under her belt.

New Zealand’s Kelly Brazier has footwork like no other player I have seen and she can be a joy to watch.

Jen Kish for Canada is superb as well. She’s an amazing leader and carries the team when they need her and of course Heather Moyse is back for Canada too so it will be interesting to watch her.

England’s Heather Fisher is another player I really like. She’s different as well which is great for the game and she’s just all round a great athlete.

Baizat Khamidova is a brilliant player for Russia. She’s is highly entertaining to watch and I think she’s going to get better and better.

Finally I would pick out Kelly van Harskamp, who is another magnificent player. If the Netherlands can get her the ball more she is a huge threat. 

Of course there are sides here who won’t be in the mix to win this title. To those sides  I would say that even if you are losing games you will learn from it. A lot of those new sides will be watching how the likes of England, New Zealand and the Netherlands train and prepare. Playing in this stadium will be a real experience for them and so everybody can take something from being here.

And the best thing about Sevens, of course, is that anything can happen! A bolter side like Fiji could easily come in here and cause an upset.

It’s set to be a fantastic event.