What a series of sevens rugby we had this year! Two teams, and eight others, showcased some amazing displays of incredible skill, physicality and teamwork over six weekends at five scenic venues spread around the country.
Let’s dive in straight away to the top 5 smart plays, in no particular order, from the series that will go down as, generally, one of the most tightly contested we have ever seen.
1. Rams “hold him up” tackle
Today, in the HSBC World Rugby Dubai Sevens, during the South Africa vs Japan match, four Japanese forwards held up Selvyn Davids for nearly a minute in what has been described as one of the most bizarre Sevens passages of play ever.
But Rams and their junior Rams 2 development outfit have been executing this smart defensive tactic out of coach Richard Lumu’s notebook since time immemorial. The objective, which worked numerous times for the Rams franchise, was to force the turnover once an opponent engaged the ball carrier for a maul to be formed. Like in this passage against Walukuba Barbarians during the Soroti Sevens.
2. The Kobs Kick Restart
Kobs, through kicker Joseph Aredo and chaser Ian Munyani, executed the kick restart so well repeatedly that it became normal to see them regather the ball every other time. But it was no mean feat whatsoever. Aredo sent pinpoint short kicks in the central zone but with enough hang time for Munyani to contest and regather, as we can see in this passage against Rams 2 during Henry Rujumba Sevens.
Black Pirates and Heathens employed the same tactic during their restarts. Read my piece earlier in the series on how teams approached this facet of the game.
3. Haruna Mohammed walks and scores
Against a rather inexperienced Entebbe Jaguars squad, Black Pirates’ Haruna Mohammed scored one of, if not the, easiest try of the entire series. From a quick tap-and-go penalty about 10 metres from the try line, Haruna walked more than three-quarters of the distance as the defence scrambled to retreat. Then he injected some pace and dived over for the try. Simple points on the board earned by a smart interpretation of the laws of the game.
4. Adrian Kasito scores a try in just 15 seconds
Speaking of smartly interpreting the laws of the game, Adrian Kasito scored probably the quickest try of the series with this smart play executed by 3 players.
In just 15 seconds, Kobs, through Aredo, Munyani and Kasito moved the ball from one try line to the other. A poorly executed kick, and chase, by the entire Mongers team in the Coronation Sevens semifinal was grounded in the in-goal area for a freekick at the halfway line but the Kobs trio were too quick for Mongers to put up any challenge.
5. Aaron Ofoywroth’s one-man restarts
Aaron Ofoywroth is one of the smartest rugby players in the country. And during the Coronation Sevens, he displayed why he has matured into a regular on the men’s sevens national team.
Twice, against Buffaloes in the quarterfinal and Mongers in the bronze medal match, Oyowroth caught the defence napping in their receiving positions to quickly send a low grubber kick the legal 10m distance and then slide alongside it for Heathens to regain possession almost immediately.
These, for me, were the top 5 smart plays we saw during the 2021 Guinness Sevens Series. Some, a product of well-choreographed training ground routines and others, just sheer individual brilliance.