When they fly into the West of Scotland in a few weeks' time, New Zealand head coach Gordon Tietjens and his team may feel a tinge of deja vu.
Once again, the mighty New Zealanders will arrive at the Glasgow Sevens to defend their tournament title, as they take another step towards claiming their third straight IRB Sevens Series crown.
In truth, the competition for the top of the table has now come to a close for all intents and purposes. Though New Zealand have only the one tournament win to their credit this season, they have been the very model of consistency—never finishing lower than third in any of the seven series events to date.
It would take a collapse beyond imagining over the last two tournaments to deny Coach Tietjens and his charges their Series victory. Instead, the eyes of most keen rugby observers now swing towards the bottom of the table where, for the first time in history, teams are battling to avoid relegation from the IRB World Series.
Out of the 15 core teams who compete on the circuit this season, the bottom three countries—following the event in Scotland—will be sent to compete in a promotion/relegation tournament in London the following weekend, against the many other nations seeking a chance to compete at the sport's highest levels.
With that in mind, this Bleacher Report exclusive preview of the Glasgow Sevens will look closely at the battle for survival among the bottom-six teams in the IRB World Series and what teams may be at risk of spending the next year in exile.
We begin with viciously competitive Pool A; one which may spell trouble for its lone North American entry.