Give 7s Team Time
Whatever the outcome of today’s Canada 7s in Vancouver, let’s not turn our backs on our Vodafone Fijian 7s team.
Yes, we all want to win our first tournament in the 2016/17 World Sevens Series. As for our expectations, it’s being long overdue but sometimes we have to accept the fact that things just don’t go our way all the time.
After our triumph at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we have been on a rebuilding phase ever since. We have a new head coach, Gareth Baber, and a number of new players to take over from seasoned campaigners like Semi Kunatani, Josaia Wini, Vili Mata, Savenaca Rawaca and Kitione Taliga who have secured contracts overseas.
And added to that are changes in the rules by World Rugby, which in fact has made things a little more difficult for us.
The new changes in laws are:
World Rugby has introduced tough new sanctions regarding head-high tackles. There are two new categories: accidental and reckless.
World Rugby states that “if a player makes accidental contact with an opponent’s head, even if contact starts below the line of shoulders, the player may still be sanctioned.
n There’ll be no more marathon sevens finals in 2017, with World Rugby announcing a series of law changes, with injuries more prevalent in the second half of finals during the World Sevens Series tournaments, with those deciders going for 20 minutes instead of the usual 14, the governing body has opted to keep the games the usual seven minutes a half.
According to Pacific Beat’s 7s rugby specialist Nick Jordan, the Vodafone Fijian 7s team have been struggling to adapt to the changes.
This was evident during the USA 7s tournament in Las Vegas where they copped six yellow cards and a red for breaching the new tackle law. And we are not taking into account the number of yellow cards and suspensions we got from the Dubai, Cape Town, Wellington and Sydney tournaments.
Also, the Vodafone Fijians are virtually known as slow starters. They are the only team who are capable of pulling of wins right at the last minute of the final of whatever tournament they are playing in.
That was when the 20-minute per tournament final rule was in place. Who would forget how we were 15-0 down against Australia in the USA 7s final last year and we fought back in the second half to win 19-15. Now all of that has changed and we cannot afford to play catching up rugby in the final anymore.
Despite what we’ve faced- it’s a fact that we’ve done well in the Series. The Gareth Baber coached- side has made it to the Dubai, Wellington and USA 7s finals. In Cape Town and Sydney tournaments we reached the Cup quarterfinals and lost narrowly to England and New Zealand.
Now in Vancouver, we are already in the Cup quarters, and with the way things are going anything can happen today.
We’re still on the right track and we should have the patience to allow our players’ to adapt to the new rules and also for the new players to acclimatise themselves to the new environment they are now in.