Rugby | SPORTS

Fiji, Nz’s Return Add Delight

After two years of COVID cancellations, the World Series Sevens will make its return to Singapore and with it two of the best teams in the world, Fiji and New Zealand, make their first appearance in 2022.
06 Apr 2022 18:13
Fiji, Nz’s Return Add Delight
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s players from left, Filipo Bukayaro, Joseva Talacolo and Jerry Tuwai on board their flight bound for Singapore on April 4, 2022.

After two years of COVID cancellations, the World Series Sevens will make its return to Singapore and with it two of the best teams in the world, Fiji and New Zealand, make their first appearance in 2022.

Forced to cancel the tournament in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Singapore 7s was again missed in 2021 when the World Series was only able to hold two tournaments in Canada. This year’s series has so far taken place in Dubai and Spain, and will now return to the Singapore National Stadium where it’s expected thousands of fans will flood the stands.

“I think it’s fantastic that it’s back,” former Canada sevens play­er Nathan Hirayama told ESPN.

“I think it’s a spot on this series that was really missed by the play­ers.

“I know that stop in Asia is always one that’s circled in red for us in the Canadian contingent, it was always something we really looked forward to, getting over there and playing. What a fantastic tourna­ment, what a fantastic venue.

“It’s a beautiful ground, it’s one of the firmer grounds to play on, which makes it one of the faster grounds, so it’s good for expansive rugby and it’s great for the game of sevens. Not to mention just coming to Singapore, the people are amaz­ing, so it’s one that all the players in the whole World Series look for­ward to.

“For players the atmosphere is everything. You try to block it out, you say you’re not distracted and you’re not taking it in, but that en­ergy, it’s hard not to feel it when you’re in the tunnel, especially run­ning out in front of a crowd like that. It’s definitely a huge plus and something that Singapore always brings.”

The return of New Zealand and Fiji adds another layer of excite­ment for the Singapore 7s. Unable to compete in the four opening World Series tournaments this season, the return of the 2020 Olympics gold and silver medalists is a huge boost for the Series as they look to shake off the pandemic’s effects.

“It’s awesome that they’ll [Fiji and New Zealand] be back on the series as well as Samoa. Obviously when you’re talking about New Zealand and Fiji in rugby sevens, you’re talking about a couple of the best teams in the world. It’s exciting to see how they go.

“What I expect and what everyone expects is world class rugby from those two sides, it’ll be great to watch and the other teams will have to be on their best to take them. It’ll be quite the spectacle.

“You have to play your best to beat those teams. You need the right preparations and you almost have to play the perfect game. They’re fantastic athletes, a lot of size, a lot of speed, a great rugby IQ and it’s fun to compete against teams like that, you always want to compete against the best, and I think it’s just a huge boost for the whole series having them back.”

According to Hirayama fans should watch for more than just New Zealand and Fiji to bring the X-factor though, with teams like Argentina, Australia and Samoa also playing an exciting brand of rugby.

“Besides Canada, I really like the way the Argies [Argentina] are playing this season and in the last few season,” Hirayama told ESPN. “I think they’re a really exciting team to watch, they’ve got a lot of young talent in that side with some old heads in there steering the ship.

“I’m curious to see how Samoa come in after having missed a cou­ple tournaments. I think the Aus­sies are playing really well as well, I think they have a lot of good young talent in there too. There’s so many teams to watch, they’re all looking exciting and there’s a lot of new faces, exciting to see the new talent come through and see the depth, so I’m looking forward to watching this weekend.”

Kicking off on Saturday

Hirayama believes there’s no ex­cuse for fans not to return to the stands and bring the party back to the Singapore 7s.

“I’d say definitely go down. I can’t think of a more high speed, enjoy­able sport to watch. Even if you’re not a rugby fan, it’s a great watch and I think I think there’s going to be some exciting rugby this week­end in Singapore so I would say – definitely check it out.”


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