As South Africa's Philip Snyman and Scotland's Scott Riddell prepare to make a hat-trick of appearances at the RWC Sevens, we take a look at all the latest squad news from the 24 competing nations.
SOUTH AFRICA (SEEDED 1)
Captain Philip Snyman is set to complete an unprecedented hat-trick of appearances for South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens having appeared in the 2009 and 2013 editions. The rest of the squad are all new to this level but were part of the Blitzboks' world series-winning campaign in 2018.
Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Chris Dry and Seabelo Senatla (injury) and Kwagga Smith (Super Rugby) are key absentees but Rosko Specman and Selvyn Davids return from injury to bolster the top seeds.
“I am pleased with the squad," said coach Neil Powell. “We do not have the greatest of records in this tournament, but that said, we know we will be a very competitive team if we play to our strengths and within our game plan. It is exciting times for all of us and we are ready to do our best for our country."
Squad: Ryan Oosthuizen, Philip Snyman (captain), Dylan Sage, Zain Davids, Werner Kok, Heino Bezuidenhout, Dewald Human, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Selvyn Davids, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ruhan Nel.
NEW ZEALAND (SEEDED 3)
Defending champions New Zealand name a squad containing only two survivors from their triumph five years ago in Moscow. Captain Tim Mikkelson is joined by Kurt Baker from the class of 2013 as the All Blacks Sevens look to counter the unavailability of the likes of Joe Webber and Vilimoni Koroi.
Amongst the less experienced players, versatile Salesi Rayasi, who can play on the wing or in the forwards, and Jona Nareki forced their way into the squad after impressing in the concluding leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Paris. Joe Ravouvou is expected to provide the main firepower having top-scored for New Zealand on the series with 28 tries.
“No team has ever won back-to-back World Cup titles since it’s started so we have certainly talked about that and about being the first team to change that. We know there are massive challenges to come, all the teams will be really well prepared,” said coach Clark Laidlaw.
Squad: Kurt Baker, Dylan Collier, Scott Curry (captain), Trael Joass, Andrew Knewstubb, Jona Nareki, Tim Mikkelson (captain), Sione Molia, Salesi Rayasi, Joe Ravouvou, Akuila Rokolisoa, Regan Ware.
ENGLAND (SEEDED 4)
England name 10 bronze medallists from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and six players who represented Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where they secured silver. Tom Mitchell will captain the team in what will be his second Rugby World Cup Sevens after he, Mike Ellery, all-time leading series try scorer Dan Norton and England’s most-capped player James Rodwell reached the final at Moscow 2013.
The experienced outfit is complemented with two members of the England Sevens academy squad: Will Edwards and Will Muir, who has recently joined the England Sevens programme after graduating from Northumbria University.
“We’ve selected a very exciting team for the Rugby World Cup Sevens,” said England coach Simon Amor. “There have been some outstanding performances across the board recently and this is backed up by the team’s consistency. Achieving five podium finishes since the Commonwealth Games demonstrates that we’re in a good place going into this World Cup.”
Squad: Phil Burgess, Alex Davis, Richard de Carpentier, Will Edwards, Mike Ellery, Harry Glover, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Ruaridh McConnochie, Tom Mitchell (captain), Will Muir, Dan Norton, James Rodwell.
AUSTRALIA (SEEDED 6)
Captain Lewis Holland and New South Wales’ Jesse Parahi are the only players in the 12-man squad to have previously played at a Rugby World Cup Sevens. Both Olympians recently signed new two-year contracts with the Australia Rugby Union with a view to competing at Tokyo 2020, but their immediate focus is on bringing the gold medal back from San Francisco.
With 37 Aussie Sevens caps, Sam Myers is not far behind in terms of experience, while the likes of Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott, Ben O’Donnell, Brandon Quinn and Liam McNamara are at the dawn of their careers.
“Liam (McNamara) has had a tough run with injuries over the last while but really came back strong in Paris last month to force my hand. He’s a great ball player with awareness, time and composure so I’m looking forward to seeing him play to his potential,” said coach Tim Walsh.
Squad: Lachlan Anderson, Tim Anstee, Lewis Holland (captain), Henry Hutchison, Boyd Killingworth, Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott, Tom Lucas, Liam McNamara, Sam Myers, Ben O’Donnell, Jesse Parahi, 44 caps, John Porch*, Brandon Quinn.
SCOTLAND (SEEDED 8)
Scott Riddell captains Scotland in what will be his third Rugby World Cup Sevens, making him the only member of the squad with previous experience of the tournament. Sam Pecquer is involved with Scotland Sevens for the first time since the Cape Town round of the series last December after recovering from a leg injury that kept him out for most of the season. Half of the players selected were also members of the Scotland squad that competed at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.
Having narrowly failed to win a place at the 15s Rugby World Cup in 2011, once-capped Bristol-born winger Jack Cuthbert can now look forward to appearing in sevens' marquee event.
"We're looking to build on the experiences gained by this group so far this season. The World Cup is a unique tournament to be involved in and both preparing for and competing at it will be great for the development of the young players in our squad,” said head coach John Dalziel.
Squad: Scott Riddell (captain), Nyle Godsmark, Jo Nayacavou, Jack Cuthbert, Alec Coombes, Robbie Fergusson, Gavin Lowe, Craig Jackson, Harvey Elms, Max McFarland, Jamie Farndale, Sam Pecquer.
KENYA (SEEDED 9)
Kenya have named one of the most experienced squad's in the competition with five Olympians amongst their number. Collins Injera, the second highest try scorer in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series history, and Andrew Amonde both competed at Rio and have over 700 series match appearances behind them. Injera is poised to appear at his third Rugby World Cup Sevens and will be hoping his firepower can help the Simbas better their semi-final appearances at the last two editions held in Russia (2013) and Dubai (2009).
Amonde and Willie Ambaka are back for their second Rugby World Cup Sevens.
"We have a very strong squad based on training. The guys have really trained hard and we believe we have selected the best team that can represent the country. We're looking for good performances from the players and, hopefully, we can get some good results," said head coach Innocent Simiyu, who was involved in RWCS 2009 as a player.
Squad: Oscar Ayodi (captain), Collins Injera, Andrew Amonde, William Ambaka, Samuel Oliech, Nelson Oyoo, Dennis Ombachi, Jeff Oluoch, Brian Tanga, Eden Agero, Herman Humwa, Samuel Ng’ethe.
JAPAN (SEEDED 11)
Six of the players that helped Japan win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong a few months ago have been rewarded with a place in Kensuke Iwabuchi's squad. Katsuyuki Sakai, who made his series debut back in 2010/11, along with fellow Olympian Kaemli Soejima and captain Dai Ozawa provide the bulk of the experience in the Asian champions' 12-man party.
Japan's only appearance on this season's series came in Singapore with Sakai scoring five tries, including doubles against France and Argentina, in a 13th-place finish.
Squad: Dai Ozawa, Ryoto Kano, Joe Kamana, Katsuyuki Sakai, Jone Naikabulam Jose Seru, Kameli Raravou Soejima, Tevita Tupou, Kosuke Hashino, Taisei Hayashi, Chihito Matsui, Taichi Yoshizawa, Josefa Lilidamu.
IRELAND (SEEDED 16)
In selecting Jordan Conroy and Terry Kennedy, Ireland possess two of the most potent finishers around. Conroy scored 11 tries across the London and Paris rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, while Kennedy’s 16 tries have helped his team to the top of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series standings in 2018.
Ireland, captained by Billy Dardis, go into the campaign on the back of an excellent season which has seen them finish third on their world series debut in London, as well as claiming two out of the first three Rugby Europe Grand Prix series titles. All the players selected featured in either the title wins in Moscow and Marcoussis or the bronze medal finish at Exeter last time out.
"It has been nine years since there's been an Irish men's team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the players are really excited for the challenge that lies ahead and are keen to demonstrate the progress they have made over the last number of seasons,” said Anthony Eddy, IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby.
Squad: Robert Baloucoune, Jordan Conroy, Shane Daly, Billy Dardis (captain), Ian Fitzpatrick, Foster Horan, Hugo Keenan, Terry Kennedy, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Jimmy O'Brien, John O'Donnell, Greg O'Shea.
URUGUAY (SEEDED 18)
Long-time coach Luis Pedro Achard and his assistant, former sevens captain Ignacio Conti, head to California with a predominantly young team backed up by the experience of three survivors from the last tournament in 2013. Gastón Mieres, who appeared in Moscow five years ago and at the 15s Rugby World Cup two years later in England, is joined by Gabriel Puig, in his second tournament as captain, and Guillermo Liejtenstein as the old heads in the 12-man squad.
While this is Nicolas Freitas' first taste of life at this level, he also fits into the more experienced category. The full-time professional has been a mainstay of the Los Teros team, at sevens and 15s, for the last four years and his inclusion certainly strengthens Uruguay's hand as they look forward to their opening game against Japan.
Uruguay's final preparations included a training camp in conjunction with the Brazilian national team in Sao José dos Campos. “It allowed us to continue oiling our game plan and getting match practice," said Achard. "The Brazilian team really helped in all that we needed and it was a very good camp; all our players finished fit. Our goal of fine-tuning the team ahead of the World Cup was fully achieved.”
Squad: Joaquín Alonso, Diego Ardao, Manuel Ardao, Felipe Etcheverry, Nicolás Freitas, Juanjuan Garese, Valentín Grille, Guillermo Lietjenstein, Gastón Mieres, Eugenio Plottier, Gabriel Puig (captain), Sebastián Schroeder.