SPORTS

Tight Situation

The Women’s Olympic Rugby Sevens will run in the first week of the Tokyo Games meaning any athlete hoping to compete in both events will have a seven-week turnaround
26 Apr 2020 16:01
Tight Situation
Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s prop Roela Radiniyavuni in full flight. Photo: World Rugby

A lot will be demanded from the Fiji Airways Fijiana players after World Rugby confirmed that the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup starts on September 18.

This is six weeks after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which will be from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

The Fijians are among countries like France, Wales and Canada that have a couple of their players switching between codes.

These are players like Rusila Nagasau, Ana Roqica, Lavenia Tinai, Roela Radiniyavuni, Pricilla Siata and new find Alowesi Nakoci.

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor said yesterday they have two separate squads- 7s and XVs.

“This is the first time ever for our women to qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

“We had been prioritising our Olympic preparations which was to be held this year but now they’ve moved it to next year and we are faced with this.”

O’Connor said there are four or more players from the sevens team that could play in the World Cup but they’ll work it out with the respective coaches.

The 7s team are under head coach Saiasi Fuli while Ro Alifereti Doviverata is the XVs coach.

MORE CHALLENGING

World Rugby’s head of competitions and performance, Mark Egan said, for some countries players may have to make a choice between the World Cup and the Olympics.

“There are certainly players that coaches feel could probably do both,” Egan said.

“The majority of unions are very comfortable they can work with this even though it is going to be challenging.”

The Women’s Olympic Rugby Sevens will run in the first week of the Tokyo Games meaning any athlete hoping to compete in both events will have a seven-week turnaround.

World Rugby understands the numbers of dual code players has dropped since the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Egan believes this will eventually end.

“The feedback we’re getting is there are fewer athletes this time round for Tokyo playing both forms of the game,” he said.

“I think further down the line you will see complete separation.”

WHY NO CHANGE OF DATE

World Rugby has been in constant dialogue with all unions since the announcement that the Olympic Games would be postponed because of coronavirus and confirmed one union did request World Cup 2021 be moved back by a month.

This is not possible because New Zealand is hosting a major trade forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, in November.

“We have to work with the dates we have,” Egan explained.

“There’s very little chance it (RWC 2021) can be moved later because you’re coming up against that event.

“There’s very little hotel availability and there’s all kinds of issues around hosting two major events like that at the same time.”

There had been suggestions the tournament could move to 2022 but Egan said the tournament “can’t move” because of fixture congestion involving the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and August and the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa in September.

Edited by Sereana Salalo

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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