Editorial – Be disciplined, be dangerous
8 December, 2018, 9:31 am
The stage is set for what is building up to be an action-packed weekend of sevens rugby for most Fijians. It’s the festive season.
We have before us a period to be merry with Christmas and New Year just around the corner.
Last weekend’s dismal show against the USA in the Cup quarter-final of the Dubai 7s is history. This weekend, our team has an opportunity to make amends.
National coach Gareth Baber has made no bones about what he expects from the team.
They are on notice to keep their discipline intact this weekend. Last weekend’s lessons were bitter. Aside from the near clinical way the US defeated Fiji in the quarter-final, lack of discipline cost us heavily as well.
Baber wants players to cut out indiscipline when playing in the World Rugby Sevens Series. Lack of discipline, he said, had an impact on the team and it dropped the team’s morale, especially when they’re outnumbered in a critical stage of the tournament.
The players, he said, must realise it hurts the group when players were given red or yellow cards in a game.
“If this continues in the future then players won’t be representing Fiji,” he warned. Baber has laid down the law, stressing this point with a number of players.
He is not going to tolerate such behaviour on the field anymore. Interestingly, in comments he made in the wake of the Dubai 7s, former coach Ben Ryan touched on team composition and made a subtle reference to games being determined some times in the last play.
He emphasised the blend of the team heading into the eliminations.
The challenge is now on Baber to get things right. Fans will be hoping he has something up his sleeves after almost two years at the helm of our national side.
Can we come clean this weekend? History will come up with mixed reactions.
Our flair, pace and unorthodox style of sevens rugby will stand us in good stead.
Statistics, and common factors, from diet, recovery, to post-tournament video analysis, now embedded in the modern game will suggest a great effort is required.
That is why Baber needs discipline in his team.
He knows we have what it takes to topple the best in the business. He knows we have the superstars and a whole lot more at home, just waiting to be discovered.
The top international coaches know that as well.
Even when they had their tails up, and Fiji under great pressure, USA coach Mike Friday kept his feet firmly on the ground, telling his men to expect tries from Fiji.
Expect a retaliation, he said.
But the key, he stressed, was retention of possession from the restart, and subsequently denying Fiji enough possession to cause more damage.
It’s a factor Baber must plan for this weekend.
Obviously key to us making a point will be the issue of discipline, tonnes of it, and just going out there and enjoying our game.
That’s when we actually can be very dangerous.
History will also confirm that when we are left staring at a blankwall sometimes, we have been known to unleash magical rugby on the way to victory.
Go Fiji, go.