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Ben Gollings Explains: How We Won Melrose Cup

An irresistible force – that is what the Fijian 7s team became in the final of the men’s Sevens World Cup over the past weekend in Cape Town, South Africa.
17 Sep 2022 14:00
Ben Gollings Explains: How We Won Melrose Cup
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s coach Ben Gollings.

An irresistible force – that is what the Fijian 7s team became in the final of the men’s Sevens World Cup over the past weekend in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Fijian team definitely cranked it up scoring five tries to New Zealand’s two, and bringing back home the Melrose Cup, which we last held in Hong Kong in 2005. We had also won it in 1997 but there has been nothing in 17 years. Whilst we have won two Olympic Gold medals since, but no World Cups.

With 19 tries, Fiji finished Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 as top try-scorers as they stayed true to their tradition of running rugby and keeping the ball alive at every opportunity.

Head coach Ben Gollings explained how the team achieved this dream.

“It was their defence more than anything that enabled them to deliver the medal that had been missing from their honours’ roster for too long,” he said.

Fiji stormed into a 24-5 half-time lead in the final but second-half yellow cards to Joseva Talacolo and Sevuloni Mocenacagi made the result anything but a formality until Filipo Bukayaro added a fifth try at the death.

“The attack looks after itself but defensive­ly, that’s what took it away against Samoa, against Australia earlier, and against New Zealand in the final,” he said.

“It is one thing we have been working on – it is part technical and part tactical, but it is also down to hard work and guts, and the players showed that.

“Everyone knows us for our attacking game – we can score tries but you’ve also got to stop them and September Monday 12, and Sunday September 11, there were huge defensive performances. It was our defence that really came to the fore for us.

“To keep it try-less during that period was fantastic. We knew we had to keep them to nil in that second half to keep our lead where we needed it to be and they ran themselves into the ground. They were awesome.”

Special moment

Gollings stressed the win was really special because of the group of players here and the way they played the tournament.

“For me it’s exciting and I know how much it means for the team and the country,” he said.

“It’s great that we are able to bring the Mel­rose Cup home, I couldn’t ask for more from the players.”

Coach Gollings added it would take a little bit of time for the win to sink in especially this was only seven months after coming in as the new Fiji 7s head coach.

“I’m doing this with players who have excep­tional talent and skills, a few of these players are two times Olympic Gold medallists.”

He adds to achieve the impossible in his first term as head coach for a rugby loving coun­try like Fiji was something special.

“They set themselves a goal and they came and finished the job.

“It is just incredible; words don’t really ex­press it right now but they are very good to work with,” he said.

“They deserve everything they’ve done; their achievements came from their hard work.


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