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Commonwealth Games: Rugby Sevens Preview

The Rugby Sevens is one of the most thrilling parts of every Commonwealth Games. For fans of fluid, running rugby, the shorter form of the sport is must-watch TV.

This year's tournament takes place at Rangers' Ibrox stadium from 26-27 July, with New Zealand the consensus 5/6 favourites. The All Blacks opened at 10/11 but have already been bet down. You can be certain they will be even shorter by game-day.

Since the format was introduced in 1998, New Zealand has won every tournament, and never lost a game. Their more recent form is equally impressive. There have been nine Sevens World Series tournaments this year, with New Zealand winning five, including the most recent event at Twickenham. Only twice all season have they failed to reach the final.

It's tough to look past that kind of pedigree, but there could be some value on a couple of outsiders. Since the announcement in 2009 that sevens rugby would be included in the Olympics in Rio, more money and time have been invested in the sport.

With many players now on sevens-only contracts, the margins between victory and defeat have shrunk dramatically.

As such, Scotland could be worth a punt each-way at 50/1 with Paddy Power.

In the Glasgow instalment of the World Series in May, Scotland reached the semi-finals - their best result of the season. They have also drafted in some 15-a side superstars such as Scotland winger Sean Lamont and Lions full-back Stuart Hogg.

“The Ibrox crowd will be massive, up to 45,000, and it is exciting,” said Hogg, “We want to put in a performance that makes the whole nation proud.

If the reinforcements can successfully adapt their game and the home crowd gets behind their men, the Scots could rumble all the way to the final.

Kenya are another long-shot that the bookmakers appear to be underrating. They are 10/1 to win Group B with Sportingbet, behind 1/80 favourites South Africa.

The Kenyans have reached the semi-finals of the last two Sevens World Cups. Their recent form is also solid, having beaten South Africa in the semi-finals of the Plate at the Glasgow tournament.

Brad Allen
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