The Rosslyn Park HSBCNational Schools Sevens is a fantastic tournament: it’s great to follow the school you support, but if they are not playing at a particular time or you are just a neutral, there can be some challenges to be addressed and choices to be made in catching the most attractive games, especially given the distances between pitches.
If you are watching a 12.00 kick-off on one of the Asda pitches, there is no point in hoping to see a 12.20 game on the Merton pitches. So, a bit of forward planning can enhance the spectating experience.
Each year I take a look at the draw for the Vase, Colts, and Cup tournaments and map out a potentially attractive schedule for each of those (Vase shown below, Colts and Cup to follow later in the week). These are just one set of options, and many will have their own reasons for wanting to see other games. My own main criteria in choosing what to see have been, more or less in order of importance:
- Will the games be competitive and meaningful to the overall tournament outcome? Knockout games (quarter finals, semi-finals &c) will generally take precedence over group games.
- At the group stage, a likely group decider will catch the eye: a “group of death” may be worth following throughout.
- The chance to see sides that are strongly fancied on paper and to pick out some key players.
- Unusual match-ups, say a Northern School playing a side from the South-East that it would not usually encounter at 15 a side.
Sometimes there will be a clash of two must-see games: if they are on nearby pitches, it may just be necessary to watch a half of each or at least monitor how close each is looking. Of course, deciding which are likely to be the strongest sides is not an exact science, and therein lies much of the fun, especially in the Colts tournament where some real upsets can occur. Earlier Sevens tournaments can be a guide (though the cancellation of several tournaments due to adverse weather has made things especially difficult this year), as can 15 a side form, but the beauty of Sevens is its unpredictability.