So Far So Good, Says Coach
The Telecom Fijiana 7s team face a big test in the 2016/17 World Sevens Series in Dubai tomorrow. Fijiana coach Iliesa Tanivula has retained the core of his team from the Olympic Games as they aim to impress.
Fresh from their runners-up finish to Olympic champions Australia in the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship, the Fijiana squad feature seven players from Rio 2016, where they finished eighth to match their final placing in the 2015/16 series.
“It’s been exciting, the energy from the new ones, new girls that have come in and really worked hard and got along with the other girls,” Tanivula said.
“I guess for us it’s a matter of getting the preparation right. We would love to have more time but it is what it is and we’ve just got to get on with it and so far so good with our preparation.”
Fijiana, who reached the quarter-finals in Dubai last year, will have plenty of experience from the likes of captain, Ana Maria Roqica, Rusila Nagasau, Lavenia Tinai, Tima Tamoi and Viniana Riwai in their ranks as they take on New Zealand, France and Ireland in Pool B.
IRELAND REMAIN POSITIVE
Ireland have kept their faith on nine members of their squad that secured their place on the 2016/17 series. Ashleigh Baxter, Nicole Cronin, Aoife Doyle, Kim Flood, Stacey Flood, Alison Miller, captain Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe and Megan Williams all kept their places in the squad, although it will be a world series debut for Williams at The Sevens Stadium.
“First of all it’s great to be back on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series this season, having claimed our place at the repechage in UCD during the summer. Re-claiming our place is really important to the continued development of the Women’s Sevens programme here in Ireland,” said IRFU director of Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy.
“We’re in possibly the toughest group in Dubai, with New Zealand, France and Fiji, however the players have had a very positive pre-season. They have worked hard in the gym and on the training pitch and we had some challenge games with the French and English, so now the team are looking forward to getting the series underway and are looking into putting in a good performance in Dubai.”
NZ STARTS 2020 BUILD-UP
New Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting has selected seven Olympic silver medallists in his squad for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series opener in Dubai.
Bunting, who was only appointed at the beginning of November, will look to those medallists – captain Sarah Goss, Ruby Tui, Shakira Baker, Niall Williams, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Kelly Brazier and Portia Woodman – to provide the experienced core to his squad.
For Woodman, a nominee for World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year 2016 in association with HSBC and top try-scorer on the 2015/16 series, and Brazier it will mean a quick switch from 15s to sevens as they are currently with the Black Ferns on a three-test tour in Europe.
Bunting has named two debutants in his 12-strong squad in exciting teenager Tenika Willison and Rebekah Cordero-Tufuga, with another two as travelling reserves in Jess Drummond and Danielle Paenga.
“2016 has been a good year for the Black Ferns Sevens,” said Bunting.
“The team has a lot to be proud about over the last four years and has helped inspire record numbers of women and girls to take up playing rugby. Dubai kicks off our new journey to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. There is a real sense of excitement and we can’t wait to get going.
For Bunting the 2016/17 series is about building the foundations for long-term success.
“We are building a player-led culture where everyone enjoys themselves and in turn plays great rugby. Our team focus for Dubai is kaha and whakawhetai – courage and gratitude. We want to front the challenge and learn from what we do and be grateful for the opportunity we have each day and represent our country with pride.”
LES BLEUS EYE TOP 4
Only weeks after making her 15s test debut for France, Rose Thomas is one of six Olympians named by France coach David Courteix for the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2016-17, the Dubai Rugby Sevens.
Thomas and Camille Grassineau both played for Les Bleues against England at the Twickenham Stoop earlier this month, but return to sevens duty for the series opener alongside four other players – captain Fanny Horta, Lina Guerin, Marjorie Mayans and Pauline Biscarat – who helped France to finish sixth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.