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STATS: FIJI 11 OUT OF 15

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team are one of the most inexperienced teams participating in the 2017/18 World Sevens Series. Statistics revealed by World Rugby indicate that in terms of
08 Jan 2018 14:44
STATS: FIJI 11 OUT OF 15
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s winger Eroni Sau in full flight. Photo: Zimbio

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team are one of the most inexperienced teams participating in the 2017/18 World Sevens Series.

Statistics revealed by World Rugby indicate that in terms of experience the Seremaia Tuwai captained-side are rated 11th out of the 15 participating teams.

In calculating the total number of tournaments in the Series, each player has played in defending champions South Africa top the list with 459 followed by England 373, Canada 362, New Zealand 268, United States 257, France 200, Samoa 197, Kenya 181, Wales 174, Scotland 173, Fiji 162, Australia 159, Argentina 121, Russia 151 and Uganda 29.

When contacted Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber said people should be aware that we’re not in the top 10 in terms of experience.

He said despite the presence of Olympic gold medallists Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua, Vatemo Ravouvou and Apisai Domolailai, the Fijians do have a young and inexperienced team compared to their opponents.

“We were competing against teams that have played in over 400 tournaments whereas for us we have only reached just over 160. There is an obvious reality when we go and play in these tournaments and I’m happy of how quickly we’re learning and growing as a team in terms of playing against these experienced squads.”

The national 7s side are now in the third position of the Series table with 28 points behind New Zealand with 41 and South Africa at 39.

AFTER RIO

Since Baber took over last year, nine players from the Rio triumph had dropped out after securing contracts overseas.

“It was like 68 to 70 percent of players left and we had to start again while other teams like South Africa, England, New Zealand, Canada and United States have pretty much retained majority of their Olympic squad.

“Anybody that has been in a job, whatever job it might be whether it is for a year or for 10 years, when the pressure comes on, the 10 years of experience is going to give you the ability to manage those pressurised situations. They also will know exactly what decisions to be made.”

Baber said some of their players have not got that much experience as yet.

“Some of our players like Eroni Sau who is in his first series did some amazing things but my job is to make sure he does it more often. But the more that you get that experience to the seven that are on the team and the guys that are coming off the bench, improves your decision making when under pressure.”

PROGRESSION

The Welshman said there is this huge expectation on the team to win every game that they play in. But inevitably with inexperience, he says, there are situation where collectively the players don’t respond and that was what we saw against Canada during the Cape Town 7s.

“However, the same happened against South Africa where we took them to task in the first half ,outscoring them by a number of tries.

“Although the referee’s decision did not go our way we should have won that game. It did not happen because of lack of experience, whereas the talent came through but being able to consistently put that together as a team is one of the challenges.”

Baber pointed it out that the way South Africa is defending right now was not how they were doing it three years ago.

“There has been a progression during that period of time to get them to a stage where it has become a very powerful weapon for them.

“I want that to be a weapon of ours too. I do not want to play the way South Africa plays because I love the way that we attack but I also need us to learn together and collectively make the right decisions in defence and be technically correct under pressure.”

– Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: peni.komaisavai@fijisun.com.fj



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