Sunvoice

Editorial: Big two weeks for coach Baber and the 7s team

World Rugby continues to set the bar in the World Sevens Series. The coaches and players have always been put to the test because of the competitiveness of the tournaments
25 Mar 2018 13:27
Editorial: Big two weeks for coach Baber and the 7s team
The Hong Kong Sevens on April 6 to 8 and the battle for the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia a week later have made them rethink and refocus on strategy. Photo: Fiji Rugby Union

World Rugby continues to set the bar in the World Sevens Series.

The coaches and players have always been put to the test because of the competitiveness of the tournaments one week after the other.

But never before have they been put to a more demanding test with two big tournaments next month.

The Hong Kong Sevens from April 6 to 8 and the battle for the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia a week later have made them rethink and refocus on strategy.

Some have preferred to prioritise one from the other, like South Africa that has never won the Hong Kong 7s, and are keen to defend the Commonwealth Games title.

The Blitzboks will arrive in Hong Kong armed with only a second-string side headed by academy coach Marius Schoeman and featuring a host of uncapped players, with their best side bound for the Commonwealth Games.

Despite leading the series on 109 points, eight better than Fiji, the Blitzboks are willing to gamble their lead by naming their strong team for the four-yearly event.

The team includes Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Werner kok, Branco du Preez, Rosko Specmnan, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel Siviwe Soyizwapi (travelling reserve).

On the other hand, Fiji Airways Fijians 7s coach Gareth Baber aims to win both for more reasons than one.

We are the defending champions and winning in So Kon Po is always special for Fijians.

But, more than that winning will make us the first team to win the HK 7s for the fourth year in a row.

And we have never won gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Baber is spot-on by focusing on the first things first.

The Hong Kong Sevens is important to win when the points standing in the series is close.

It is also more competitive compared to the Commonwealth Games which has four pools of four with only the winners progressing to the semis.

In South Africa’s pool are Papua New Guinea and Malaysia – two sides who are outside the series core teams.

In Fiji’s pool are Wales, Uganda and Sri Lanka but in the Hong Kong they are grouped with New Zealand, Samoa and Russia.

After Fiji’s outstanding performance in Vancouver, the possibility is that they could be the first team to win four HK 7s in a row.

And, they could win the gold medal for the first time in the Gold Coast a week later.

We have the players to do the job and make history in two weeks.

We have a strong team for the Commonwealth Games named yesterday and the majority of the players are also likely to be included for Hong Kong.

The least fans can do is support them to bring glory to our island nation.

Osea Bola

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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