Hosts Scotland have been handed a tough draw ahead of the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens at Murrayfield on May 31st-June 1st, the final event in the 2007-2008 IRB Sevens World Series. The Scots face this month's Adelaide Cup champions South Africa in pool B on day one, as well as two other tough southern hemisphere sides in Australia and Argentina.
Last year Murrayfield provided the backdrop for a thrilling finale as New Zealand clinched the Series title with victory in the very final match of the season. The Kiwis' title looks safe after a dominant start to the season: Gordon Tietjens's side won the first five Cup titles but are yet to rubber-stamp their Series defence and the race is also on for second place behind them between South Africa, Fiji and Samoa.
As number one seeds New Zealand head pool A in Edinburgh and face England, Russia and Portugal. Wales take on third seeds Samoa, who head pool C, alomg with Canada and newcomers Spain, having memorably defeated Fiji in last season's Cup quarter finals at Murrayfield to pave the way for New Zealand's late title charge.
The Fijians this year line up in Pool D, where they face the dual European challenge of France and Moldova as well as the impressive Kenyans, who have reached five Cup quarter finals and one semi final already this season.
"Having seen the draw I am certain that we are in for two fantastic days of rugby Sevens," said Gordon McKie, Chief Executive of Scottish Rugby.
"I am particularly looking forward to the last match on day one, where Scotland will take on Argentina," McKie added. "The corresponding game produced a great buzz in the stadium last year, where all the kids from the Festival of Rugby sat on the trackside and supported Scotland. The atmosphere was highly charged, and produced the result all Scots were hoping for.
"I wish all the teams success in their preparations and look forward to welcoming them to Scotland in the coming weeks."
New Zealand need seven points - victory in the Plate (8 points) or a Cup semi final appearance (12) - to seal their Series defence at the Emirates Airline London Sevens. However, should they not achieve either of those marks at Twickenham, Murrayfield could once again stage the decisive matches.
"From the results to date this year, there is every chance of a few upsets over the course of the weekend in Scotland," said IRB Sevens Manager Beth Coalter.
"I certainly wouldn't bet against New Zealand tying up their Series defence, but it might not be as easy as they made it look in the first half of the year."