Editorial comment – Countdown to Cape Town
7 December, 2018, 8:12 am
In the face of the heavy influx of rookies in our sevens rugby campaign this season, there is still an element of respect attached to the national side.
On the roll against Fiji in the quarter-finals of the Dubai 7s last weekend, USA coach Mike Friday kept his men on the ground. Experience had taught him many lessons about Fiji.
It is when you least expect it that Fijians can crawl out of the woodwork so to speak, and send you to the cleaners.
History has tales of how Fiji actually fought back from the brink of defeat, sometimes after the final hooter had sounded, to clinch victory.
Over the years, men like sevens wizard Waisale Serevi epitomised all that is good about Fijian sevens rugby.
We are dangerous when we enjoy our game.
We are dangerous when we stare at a blank wall, even when we are trailing on the scoreboard.
We pack pace to burn.
We seem to have a dream factory that continues to churn out superstars of the abbreviated version of the game of rugby.
We have huge men who can run like wingers and even the small guys have a mean tackle.
The best part though is when we find our rhythm.
That’s when we are like ballet dancers on a rugby field, our game, having already been likened to poetry in motion.
It is this seemingly endless supply of sevens “superstars” that keeps teams guessing at the highest level of the game.
Friday knows this.
His instruction at the break was clear.
His men had to expect that tries would be scored by the Fijians.
The key though was retention of possession, denying the Pacific islanders possession.
It was critical to them winning. In the end, it cost us the game.
The rest, like they always say, is history.
In the face of that, it was encouraging to hear from former national coach Ben Ryan.
Ryan reckons Fiji will return to winning ways in the next tournament of the 2018/2019 World Rugby Sevens Series in Cape Town tomorrow.
The Olympic gold-medal winning coach said after watching the Fijians play after their loss against the USA team in the cup quarter-final in Dubai, he knew they were going to make a comeback in the Cape Town 7s.
While he believes Fiji looked fit and hungry, there was something he raised that will no doubt interest fans.
He spoke about the need to blend the right combination of players to feature in the elimination stages.
“Each tournament is going to have games decided on last plays and it’s going to be about consistently being in the mix come finals day,” said Ryan.
We play our first game against France at 9.59pm tomorrow before we take on Kenya on Sunday at 1.20am and play England in our last Pool match at 5.03am. Interest is on the rise.
The challenge is with national coach Gareth Baber to set a game plan that sets us off on a positive journey. Go Fiji, go.