Rugby | SPORTS

Fiji 7s To Play In Townsville Before Tokyo Olympics

The Fijian men’s rugby sevens team are hopeful of playing in the Oceania 7s tournament before they go to the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan. Fiji Rugby Union chief executive
02 Jun 2021 12:00
Fiji 7s To Play In Townsville Before Tokyo Olympics
Castres second five-eighth Vilimoni Botitu is one of the overseas-based players targeted to play in the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan. Photo: Castres

The Fijian men’s rugby sevens team are hopeful of playing in the Oceania 7s tournament before they go to the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor, said they were working on the logistics and were very hopeful about it.

The Tokyo Olympic Games is from July 23 to August 8.

The Fijian 7s training squad have been in camp but their preparations have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Coach Gareth Baber told Rugby Pass that the players were enduring the most “ludicrous” build-up ever to an Olympic Games that would mean his players would be away from their families for 18 weeks by the time they completed their sevens gold medal defence in Japan.

Quarantine restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the Fiji players , who are hoping to win a second successive gold medal, have been operating in a training bubble.

They will only leave Fiji in June to take part in a mini-Oceania sevens tournament against Australia and New Zealand in Townsville- the only international competition Fiji will have played in the 16 months leading into then Tokyo Olympics.

The lack of international competition and quarantine restrictions is also impacting on Baber’s plans to bring back key players currently operating at some of Europe’s top clubs to bolster the gold medal bid.

They are Semi Radradra, Aminiasi Tuimaba and Vilimoni Botitu.

Australia and New Zealand have just held a series of matches between the countries in Auckland to try and improve their preparations for Tokyo leaving Fiji to play catch-up having been restricted to tournaments staged in the islands.

While Baber can take some comfort from the fact every other gold medal chasing sevens nation is also battling against disrupted preparations, he recognises the unique pressures facing his men.

“We are able to do some training together and have been in the same facility for about five weeks which has been pretty tough given the restrictions in the country,” Baber told Rugby Pass.

“We will go to Australia and play against New Zealand and Australia plus one other team in a pared down version of the Oceania tournament and it would be our one and only chance for international competition before the Olympics.”

“With the quarantine restrictions we would have to go straight from Australia to Japan and our training base in Oita.”

“It will be the first time we have been out of Fiji since last February (2020) and that is particularly tough.”

“We have had local tournaments but Fiji doesn’t play against Fiji in the Olympics and we want to test ourselves against teams who operate differently.”

“Playing on the sevens circuit young players get to play in different countries and mature and develop by dealing with pressures and you are missing out on that experience.”

“I want to see players competing against New Zealand and Australia and we will be looking at doing that if we can get the European based players back.”

“The international release for the Olympics is only 21 days and so you are beholding to the goodwill of the clubs,” Baber told Rugby Pass.”

(Additional information from Rugby Pass)

 

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



Five Square da bang online sale


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Total
Covid 19 - SPC
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper