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Editorial: Sudden Death 7s Shootout At AT&T Park

July 15
12:02 2018

Our sevens ranking on the international stage comes to nothing when the Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks off at the AT & T Park in San Francisco on Saturday Fiji Time.

That’s the stark reality and brutality of the new format which will make the 2018 edition of the four-yearly event a tournament like no other.

Who will stand tall in the end at the home of the Major League Baseball franchise San Francisco Giants depends on which team plays it right at the three-day tournament.

We may be the Olympic sevens rugby champion but that’s immaterial if we can’t spark from the start.

We maybe the second seed after our performance in the 2017-18 World Sevens Series but it matters little next weekend.

Next weekend is a sudden-death shootout for every team. It differs from the usual World Sevens Series structure that includes pool stages before a knockout on finals day.

Teams used to play six games in the two days but next weekend it will be four games in three days if one is to reach the final and win the Melrose Cup.

Some teams will have travelled long distances, crossed several time zones and may only play 14 minutes before they head back home if they don’t step up straight away.

This means that teams need to be mentally tougher to survive the unforgiving single loss knockout format.

It means that every team needs to absorb the pressure and unleash their best in every game.

The format was designed by World Rugby in such a way to promote the sport in the United States.

It maybe not an ideal format for the teams but it’s more prime time and easier to market and sell for television as NBC will broadcast the World Cup in the US and CBC in Canada.

The battles for the Melrose Cup and William Webb Ellis (15s) target emerging markets to promote the game.

The last RWCS was held in Russia in 2013 and the next 15s showpiece will be held in Japan in 2019.

But the US remains the biggest untapped market for World Rugby and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase the event.

According to World Rugby, sevens rugby Olympic inclusion attracted around 30 million fans globally.

And this is a perfect opportunity for our Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team to set the pace in the US by becoming the first country to win the Melrose Cup for the third time.

Gareth Baber’s men have been doing the hard yards for the past two weeks in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Baber will name his 12 players tomorrow and first up for the Seremaia Tuwai-captained team is the winner of the Japan-Uruguay match.

It’s crunch time from the start as there is no room for a second chance. Must-win is the ball game, it’s the only option. There is no other way.

Osea Bola

feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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