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Scott Waldrom

Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom played for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10. Waldrom has now turned his hand to coaching and continues to be involved in rugby from the grassroots up.

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Waldrom: Vital to win big in pool play

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Scott Waldrom     06 Aug 2016     Getty Images

They have completed their final preparations in Florida with games against the USA and are now settled into their surroundings in the Olympic Village.

Sadly there’s no time to relax and enjoy hanging out with some of the world’s best athletes with three important pool games in the first day and a half of their competitions. With the twelve team format, the results of every game have a major impact on the standings heading into the medal rounds.

Having maximum points and the best for and against will have huge benefits come quarter final time with first placed playing eighth, second vs seventh and so on. This means that big wins will play a much more important role compared to the traditional sixteen team format where your seeding going into the tournament and pool seeding determine who you play.

Our women’s team is first up on the big stage and they face a mixed bag in their pool but potentially face easier opposition than top seeded Australia. New Zealand should have no problems dealing with Spain and Kenya but should not take either of these teams lightly with Spain surprising many in claiming the last qualifying spot and beating some much more fancied opposition. 
The big test is going to be against a much improved French team that is very capable of taking a medal. But if they can come away with solid wins they can put themselves in contention for top seeding heading into the quarterfinals. The reason I say this is because Australia have found themselves in a very tough pool with contenders USA and the team who I think will be the surprise package Fiji.

Fiji have been training alongside their male counterparts under the influence of Coach Chris Cracknell and will be no easy beats for the current World Series champions. All three teams should have no problem with Colombia so the points difference between these teams will be minimal and all three should qualify for the quarterfinals. 

Finally pool C will be a hotly contested between Canada and the Great Britain team who should easily deal with Japan and automatic qualifiers Brazil. That will leave five teams to fight it out for that final spot in the top eight. For me, I think it will be a toss-up between Japan and Spain for that final spot. 

My predictions for the women’s medal rounds look like this:
Quarter finals
1st New Zealand Vs 8th Spain
2nd Canada Vs 7th USA
3rd Australia Vs 6th Fiji
4th Great Britain Vs 5th France

Semi finals
New Zealand Vs Great Britain
Australia Vs Canada

Final
New Zealand Vs Australia

Now for the tough one, in a year where six different teams have won a World Series tournament and the margins between teams have considerably shortened, we are in for one hell of a fight for that men’s Olympic Gold. 

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Pool A will see Fiji face a spirited USA and Argentina but I think Ben Ryan’s Fiji will have too much fire power. USA should have too much speed and power for an improving Argentina but this will be a big game in determining seeding going into the next rounds. All three teams should easily account for the automatic entrants Brazil meaning all three in pool A should qualify for the quarter finals.

Pool B should easily be taken out by South Africa but will feature a big match up between Australia and France to see who claims a spot in the quarter finals alongside South Africa. I can’t see Spain being too much trouble for these teams but again they will be coming out to make a name for themselves and will not roll over easily.

Finally, pool C is the one we are all interested in. Despite a late injury replacement I don’t feel New Zealand is any worse off heading into the tournament with the group of fourteen all preparing together and being on the same page. Lewis Ormond will slide right into the team of twelve with no disruption. 
Despite being third ranked I don’t see much difference between the three pools in terms of difficulty and New Zealand should progress through pool stages in a strong position. The Great Britain team will be a bit of an unknown but with the least time together it will be interesting to see how they go. Before New Zealand face Great Britain they must first play Kenya and the much improved Japan.

Although we should beat these teams I don’t think either will be an easy beat and therefore our points for and against might be a bit lower than others.

Here is my prediction for the men’s and sadly I think Kenya is going to be the unfortunate team not to make the top eight despite winning just as many games as others who will qualify.

Quarterfinals
1st Fiji Vs 8th Argentina
2nd South Africa Vs 7th France
3rd New Zealand Vs 6th Great Britain
4th USA Vs 5th Australia

Semi-finals
Fiji Vs USA
South Africa Vs New Zealand

Finals
Fiji Vs New Zealand

Sadly with the twelve team format we might see a few teams playing each other again but I can see it following a pretty traditional outcome that has played out this season with New Zealand and South Africa meeting in the semi finals and then on to face Fiji in what will be an epic final.

How do you think it will play out? Also look out for my daily wraps and see if my predictions are correct!


Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Despite being pegged behind All Blacks legend Richie McCaw in the number seven jersey, Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom also played in seven tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10 and is currently the Rugby Development Officer for the Avalon rugby club in Wellington.

The Views expressed in this article are those of the contributor and not New Zealand Rugby.