Editorial comment – Amazing form, great victory
5 June, 2018, 7:49 am
If you were lucky, you could have sensed a happy feeling in the air yesterday in the wake of Fiji’s win over South Africa at the London 7s in Twickenham.
Now that was special. It’s not every day that we get to savour a number of major achievements anyway.
The victory over the Blitzbokkes was extra special when one puts into perspective the World Rugby 7s series points table.
Now tie in the fact that the Blitzbokkes are the defending series champions and had been leading the race in the early part of the series.
Their physicality in the contact area hasn’t been an easy part of their game to dominate. That is why national coach Gareth Baber and the team deserve accolades. Then add the fact that it was our fifth gold medal in this year’s series.
Blitzbokkes’ coach Neil Powell, when interviewed after their game against New Zealand in the quarters, spoke about retention of possession. He linked it to nullifying the effectiveness of an opposition side relying on its physicality. It meant denying the opposition possession and basically frustrating it out of the game.
That, however, would have placed discipline on a very high pedestal.
The national side went into the London 7s highly fancied to take out top honours.
The Telegraph newspaper reported yesterday that when Fiji took the field and started to work their hard-running magic, and their fans erupted, waving sky blue flags, a reverence took hold of even the most distracted fan.
The hype surrounding the introduction of France based duo Josua Tuisova and Semi Radradra lifted expectations on the national side.
They had turned heads for the Barbarians a week earlier against England in the full code.
In the end, the national side lived up to the hype, solidifying a brand of rugby that is as much loaded with flair as it is with a better defensive shape.
The early sin-binning of forward Sevuloni Mocenacagi lifted our defensive effort against the Blitzbokkes. It inched out a desire to perform to the highest level. It showed the resilience of the side to overcome a massive obstacle. There was always the possibility of the side wilting under the immense pressure. But when push came to shove, Jerry Tuwai and his men believed in themselves, stayed composed and reaped the rewards.
The 21-17 win early yesterday morning was lapped up with enthusiasm by Fijian fans around the world.
You could sense it in the smiling faces yesterday in the Capital City.
There can be no doubts about the impact of sevens rugby on our nation.
It cuts through every imaginary demarcation line, from gender to religion and ethnicity. It did not matter at all. The nation united to celebrate a great achievement. That’s why sevens rugby is so special.
As attention shifts to Paris this weekend, we must stay focused to anchor what has been an amazing season with victory.
The challenge is firmly on Baber and the team to be consistent. That means improving on the weekend’s form.
The fact that we have been pooled alongside New Zealand, Samoa and Kenya means we cannot rest on our laurels. It means our team will need the backing of Fijians to come clean in France.
Go Fiji, go.