Locals Sacrifice, Must Play In Games

18 weeks away is a massive sacrifice in pursuit of the main prize at the Olympics next month-Gareth Baber, It’s ‘against the run of play’ to include overseas players who play 15s throughout, Let’s not include star players for the sake of it, it backfired in 2018.
09 Jun 2021 16:36
Locals Sacrifice, Must Play In Games
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber

The Fijian 7s squad members are making a huge sacrifice to defend the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics next month.

And Coach Gareth Baber applauded his men, now in quarantine in Australia, for making a sacrifice in this testing time.

Baber already has had major disruptions to his side’s preparation following the canning of all international tournaments as COVID-19 ravaged the globe.

With limited resources and restrictions, Baber’s men has been toiling and training in a bubble and cut off from any physical contact with friends and family members for up to 18 weeks.

Such is the sacrifice taken to defend the Olympic gold won in Rio in 2016.

“You want to do your best for Fiji and be in a position to defend the gold medal.

“And the squad will be away from the families for about 18 weeks by the end of the quarantine following the Olympics,”Baber told Rugby Pass

“Fijians are so family-orientated and we’ve been creative in trying to prepare the squad.”

Baber wants to see players competing against New Zealand and Australia.

And the only pre-Tokyo Olympic Games tournament will be when they take part in the PacificAus Sports Oceania Rugby Sevens on June 25-27 in Townsville, Australia.

This will be the perfect opportunity for Baber to gauge his side against quality teams.

Trans-Tasman rivals may have the edge after taking part in having Trans-Tasman 7s in New Zealand last month.

The All Blacks Sevens won all six matches against Australia, while the Black Ferns Sevens lost only one, to lay down a sizable marker on the road to Tokyo.

And this not a new challenge for the Fijians but they need to hone their skills, perfect their game and make a claim for the Tokyo Olympics final squad.


Go Local For Tokyo

Having trained the local players during his tenure since replacing Ben Ryan more than four years ago, it’s only proper that Baber reward the players accordingly by giving them a ticket to the Olympics.

While he would make the final decision, he should snub calls for the inclusion of prominent overseas reps,

It would definitely go ‘against the run of play’ to drop seasoned local 7s reps in place of overseas players who play 15s throughout in Europe competitions.

Unfortunately, the call made three years ago to include Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova continues to pop up.

We know how it backfired when seasoned New Zealand 7s reps through two ‘double ups‘ caused our downfall A T&T Park, San Francisco at the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup (Melrose Cup).

Give our local players the chance to prove their worth as they already make the ultimate sacrifice.

And they already proved their worth in the international circuit. They won the Hong Kong Sevens for the past five years, a feat which would take time to equal or surpass.

Baber has the cream of the crop in the 18 players now in Australia.

He doesn’t have to look far and wide but within.

The choice is HIS to name his final 13 players for Tokyo next month.



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