Baber: We Need Better Systems, Processes To Remain At The Top

Fiji currently lacks ‘centralised and controlled man­agement’, which hampers the coherent develop­ment of the sevens rugby game
29 Apr 2019 17:54
Baber: We Need Better Systems, Processes To Remain At The Top
Jerry Tuwai in full flight against France in the final of the Hong Kong 7s 2019. Photo: Zoomfiji

Gareth Baber believes 7s rugby in Fiji needs better systems and processes for the country to stay competitive and remain at the top of the world game.

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach, in Fiji Rugby Union’s 2018 an­nual report, wrote that creative solutions were needed to ensure the short, medium and long-term quality of the local 7s game.

Baber believes FRU should, in the short term, address issues such as a consistent training ven­ue for the national team, financial security, player retention, welfare support, player education, quality staff/personnel and more.

This, he wrote, would be a cor­nerstone in eliminating distrac­tions for the players and ensure the success of the team in the HSBC 2019/20 World Sevens Se­ries.

The Welshman also believes the 7s system in Fiji currently lacked ‘centralised and controlled man­agement’, which in his eyes, was hampering the coherent develop­ment of the game.

“At present, the system very much resembles that which has been in existence for a number of decades (and granted it has been successful),” he wrote.

“Yet the competitive environ­ment has changed. The game has shifted away from ‘rugby players’ towards a hybrid version of the individual, the ‘rugby athlete.’

“The game itself has changed and World Rugby continues to move on a path which is driven by a desire to produce a product which looks very different to the game in Fiji.”


FRU in January announced steps to ‘control and sanction’ domestic 7s tournaments from next year within an official window from November to March.

Its chief executive officer John O’Connor said the step was taken in the wake of union complaints that the distraction of 7s tourna­ments was disrupting teams pre­paring for the domestic 15s sea­son.

There were also concerns about the conduct of some 7s tourna­ment organisers.

Baber’s analysis, in part, pro­vides solutions to these issues.


But it also touches on the fun­damental need for local 7s rugby development to align itself with international trends, given the growing popularity of what is now an Olympic sport.

“Based on our resources, we need to think creatively about this and how we can make it a reality. We must look to skill and expertise on the Island,” he wrote.

“This can only be done through the leadership of the Fiji Rugby (Union) and it is my opinion that we need to create an understand­ing through our local stakehold­ers on how this translates in to in­ternational play and behaviours.

“This requires an effort on be­half of FRU to build processes which create these learning op­portunities such as coaching days, referee days, tournament review on the islands, domestic 7s series etc..”

Baber added that he was pro­posing a way to enhance the way rugby 7s is played in Fiji, which he said was characterised by pace and power, and not change it.

Edited by Osea Bola



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