Refs Decide, Avoid ‘Reckless, Accidental’ High Tackles
The second leg of the World Sevens Series is done and dusted and we know where we stand.
We thought we would improve our standing from the first leg in Dubai and Cape Town where we finished second and fifth respectively.
But in reality we achieved exactly the same result in Wellington and Sydney last weekend.
This reflects the competitive nature of the game and we need to do our homework thoroughly in our preparation if we are to strike gold in the remaining six tournaments. First and foremost, we must play according to plan and instructions devised by Vodafone Fijians 7s coach Gareth Baber and abide by the regulations of the game.
It’s really unbecoming that we remain winless after four tournaments after winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and being the defending champions of the World Sevens Series for the past two years.
After the Sydney tournament, the gulf created by series champions South Africa will be virtually impossible to bridge so defending the series is almost a distant reality.
At the Wellington tournament, we made it difficult for ourselves by not abiding to regulations and at times challenging the referee’s decision knowing full well they are the sole arbiter at the ground.
Two disciplinary offences where Nemani Nagusa was suspended for six games (eye contact) and Setareki Bituniyata for three games (high tackle) proved costly going into the Sydney event.
Baber had to rejig and make positional changes with captain Osea Kolinisau switching from playmaker to the hooker’s role.
It is therefore important players get updated on the new high tackle laws which have copped a lot of flak from coaches and former players.
World Rugby’s new directives for punishing high tackles have left it up to coaches and players to figure out for themselves how to adapt
The threshold for a high tackle remains the line of the shoulders. But World Rugby has instituted two new categories for a high tackle – ‘reckless’ and ‘accidental’, which makes it more difficult especially for the referees to make the right interpretations before making a decision.
The severity of the punishment for ‘reckless tackles’ carries a minimum sanction of a yellow card and maximum a red with possible suspensions.
The ridiculous phrase of ‘accidental tackle’ has a minimum sanction of a penalty and no maximum.
The game is already creaking under the weight of red and yellow cards and our players need to learn and adapt. The game is going through a difficult transition and teams and coaches need to find a way out.
It’s even more difficult now to stop a rolling maul or when a prop is diving for the line.
The new law is forcing players and coaches to make the changes. And if they get it even slightly wrong there will be severe repercussions. We don’t want to be on the receiving end again in the next leg in Las Vegas-Vancouver next month.
More hard work starts tomorrow at the Uprising Beach Resort in Pacific Harbour as Baber’s extended squad gathers for a week-long camp. And they need to find a way out as we need to find our mojo back and celebrate success on the 7s circuit.