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Analysis: What Next?

Critics have drawn their swords and begun their attacks on our Vodafone Fijian 7s team after they were bundled out of cup play in the London Sevens during the weekend.
22 May 2017 13:02
Analysis: What Next?

Critics have drawn their swords and begun their attacks on our Vodafone Fijian 7s team after they were bundled out of cup play in the London Sevens during the weekend.

Most are finding it hard to accept that the Gareth Baber coached-side, our Olympic Games gold medal winners, are down in the Challenge Trophy level of the World Sevens Series. We are playing with the Russians, not the South Africans, New Zealanders, English and other top teams.

Many have turned to social media to voice their frustrations and are calling for the axing of the head coach and a couple of senior players.

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 12.52.25 PM

Is this is necessary? Do we need to make changes?      

Our current performance in this World Sevens Series are put into context if we look at the results of former coach Ben Ryan during his first year, the 2013/14 World Sevens Series. While comparing the results we should also consider the following factors:

  • Changes in regulations made by World Rugby soon after the Olympic Games.

These include redefining of illegal (high) tackle categories and increased sanctions to make the game safer. Our players have been amongst those hardest hit.

  • For coach Baber, this is his first year to be fully involved in the World Sevens Series while Ryan had been coaching England for six years (2007-2013) before coming over.
  • The number of players from the Olympic winning team who have moved on. Only around less than half of the medal winning team have been available. Baber is having to rebuild.
  • After the chance to overhaul the rampant South Africans at the top of the World Sevens Series table was gone, Baber opted to look to the big year in 2018. He blooded new players and new combinations in the final rounds.

These stats should indicate to us where we stand. There’s no need to press the panic button. Yet. From the 10 tournaments we’ve played, there are many things we’ve learnt but instead let’s take five.

5 THINGS WE’VE LEARNED

  • DISCIPLINE:
    • For this Series we probably had the highest number of yellow and red cards dished against us. Our players seem to be having difficulty in adapting to the new tackle rules.
    • The red card against Sevuloni Mocenacagi in the Wellington Sevens Cup final probably cost us the tournament and another from Isake Katonibau in Singapore. We need to work on our defence.
  • NEED FOR SPEEDSTERS (STRONG FINISHERS):
    • We need our own Perry Baker, Dan Norton or Seabelo Senatla.
  • PLAY AS A TEAM:
    • For most times we rely on individual brilliance instead of working together as a unit.
  • WIN POSSESSION: 
    • They always say the best form of defence is to attack. We can only do that if we have the ball in our hands and that is why we need to better contest the kickoffs, line-outs, scrums and rucks.       
  • TEAM LEADERS:
    • For most part of their series captain Osea Kolinisau was carrying this burden alone. We saw what happened in Hong Kong when Katonibau came in.

There’s a need for senior players to step-up and assist the captain.   

2018 might seem far away. But we need to start analysing and planning now.

Apart from the World Sevens Series, the major challenges for 2018 are the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, April 4-15 and the Rugby World Cup Sevens July 20-22 in San Francisco.

Let the rebuilding continue. And give Baber and the team a chance.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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