Olympics | Rugby | SPORTS

The Secret Behind Our Gold Medal Win

CAWANIBUKA HIGHLIGHTS KEY POINTS BEHIND OLYMPIC GAMES SUCCESS: “Relationship, understanding and trust between us coaches and our players is very crucial ”
22 Aug 2021 16:57
The Secret Behind Our Gold Medal Win
The Fijian men’s 7s gold medallists sing a hymn after the medal presentation at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. Photo; World Rugby

For over a decade in assisting the Fijian 7s team, strength and con­ditioning coach Naca Cawanibuka has develop a firm understanding of a typical Fijian rugby player headlining into high performance environment.

Something that distinguish a Fijian player who comes out of the Island is the raw talent and natural flair they possess, but most of our players do not come in with the right mindset and attitude towards the high-performance environment they’re transitioning into.

All our previous 7s coaches have shared the same sentiment on this issue and over the years Naca has tailor made a physical conditioning programme specifically for Fijian 7’s that will helps in players transi­tion and sets the right mindset for our players.

“I’ve been blessed for 16 years of this work, and working with differ­ent coaches, I have learnt to trade and harness these skills of working with Fijian players,” said Naca.

Fijian 7s team strength and conditioning coach, Naca Cawanibuka.

Fijian 7s team strength and conditioning coach, Naca Cawanibuka.


Naca explained how crucial it is for our local coaches to learn and un­derstand the link between a Fijian player and the high level of physical conditioning needed from them, as most out our players tend to oversee this and not having the right mind­set towards it.

Naca shared a pretty crucial point looking at the fact that players’ right attitude towards the game and its environment outweighs their proficiency, builds their character and sets the right tone for them to achieve greatness.

“Relationship, understanding and trust between us coaches and our players is very crucial so that you can set them on a journey, align them on the right path and they’ll do the job,” said Naca.

The Fijian 7s team during a gym session

The Fijian 7s team during a gym session

“And you have to be someone that can reason with your players and explain to them the journey, and the different level of environment so they can adjust their mindset, at the end of the day they’re playing and not you,” added Naca.

Naca emphasised on the most important aspect of their Olympic journey, which was physical con­ditioning at its peak, which he re­membered how it didn’t go well with some of the players at certain times.

“Physical conditioning is one of the key determinacies of a perfor­mance, to win an Olympic gold then you’ll have to be super fit and that’s nonnegotiable, you have to be physi­cally ready because where the body goes the mind goes, and you cannot deliver what you don’t have,” added Naca.


The Olympic gold medal win was just the end result and as a strength and conditioning head coach, Naca knows that the team must go to the extreme in order to reach that Olympics podium.

“Reaching that level demands work capacity, it demands robust­ness and durability, and you have to take the body to a really dark place in order to get to that highest podium, said Naca.

“You need to be physically fit and all the boys that comes into our en­vironment will tell you that if you ask them what it’s like to be a Fiji 7’s players, you cannot deliver what you don’t have,

“Whatever our training program is, if it’s at the beach, the rugged hill, obstacle courses or at the sand dunes, there has to be a transfer to the infield performance, it’s a very targeted approach,” he added.

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