Following New Zealand’s triumph in Dubai to begin the season, the 2018-19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series continues this weekend with the second leg in Cape Town.
For those who are in the United States, Day 1 action will be Saturday morning from 3:15 a.m. to about 1:10 p.m. ET, and Day 2 action is Sunday from 3:35 a.m. to about 1:10 p.m. ET. The final is Sunday at 12:44 p.m. ET (full list of fixtures and start times).
While it won’t be broadcast on television anywhere in the US, you can still watch the entire tournament live or on-demand on your computer, phone or streaming device via ESPN+, the new digital streaming service from ESPN that broadcasts every leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series–and many other sports–live.
You can sign up for a free 7-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of every match on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
If you can’t watch live, everything that is streamed on ESPN+ is also available to be watched on-demand afterwards via ESPN.com or the ESPN app.
With the added incentive of Olympic qualification built into this year’s World Series–the top four teams in the standings at the end of the season will automatically book spots at Tokyo 2020–getting off to a positive start last week in Dubai was even more important than usual.
And it was no surprise that the 2018 World Cup champions were up to the task.
En route to their first tournament win in Dubai since 2009, New Zealand was excellent on defense. They allowed just 48 points total through their six matches over the weekend, giving up a mere five points each to England and the United States in the semifinals and final, respectively.
“I’m incredibly proud of how the boys played in those last two games,” said captain Scott Curry, who was one of four injured New Zealand players sidelined during the final. “We’ll take a lot out of how we played in those last two games. We were down to nine men and we were rotating our subs. The guys defended their hearts out.”
The winner in Dubai has ultimately gone on to win the overall title in each of the last three seasons, so New Zealand will be hoping that trend continues this year. In Cape Town, where they stand as defending champions, they’ll be in a pool with hosts South Africa, so it will be intriguing to see how that plays out.
Another intriguing storyline that emerged from Dubai was the play of the United States. Though they couldn’t find a way past New Zealand, losing to the Kiwis in both pool play and the final, the Eagles won each of their other five games en route to a second-place finish. That includes an impressive 24-14 quarterfinal win over Fiji, who finished second in last year’s World Series and fourth in the World Cup in July.
This was a dramatic improvement over last year’s season-opener in Dubai, where the Americans lost every game and finished in a tie for last. They ultimately finished sixth at the end of the season, and they ended the World Cup in San Francisco in the same position, but the Eagles look like a legitimate threat for a Top-4 finish this year.
Over the last 10 years, just three different teams have won in Cape Town: New Zealand (2009-2012, 2017), hosts South Africa (2008, 2013-2015) and England (2016).