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Fiji Time: 10:36 PM on Friday 18 April

/ Front page / Sport

Lethal combination

Kameli Rakoko
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

BULA everyone. Hope everyone is enjoying the Fiji sevens rugby success in London and brimming with satisfaction and delirious excitement after an almost fairytale ending to our 2011/2012 HSBC Sevens World Series campaign.

Though we fell six points short of clinching the title, definitely coach Alifereti Derte and his assistant Etuate Waqa have proven that they make a lethal coaching combination and have stamped their mark up there as one of the best in the busines.

Taking into consideration the handicap we faced because of Australia and New Zealand's unrelenting political policies preventing players in the army to play in two tournaments and our inability to string together the best team out of the talents available, Dere and Waqa top the list as the best sevens coaching team of the series. In retrospect, Fiji's dissappointment in the Wellington and Las Vegas tournaments were blamed on blatant and inconsistent refereeing by an Aussie refree and the farce of the Fiji loss to England in the Scotland sevens contrtolled by a Kiwi referee.

Maybe, we should also ask that no Aussie and Kiwi referee control Fiji matches. Every other nation's referee do not make such bad refreeing decisions against Fiji only New Zealand and Australian referees. I am not insinuating anything here but presenting the facts as everyone has witnessed. Hopefully, it was human error influenced by the background of competitive nature between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia and that it was just a coincidence.

If the series needs to be the best and most excitng sporting event building up to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil the IRB big wigs should take the most honest step and take the Kiwi and Aussie referees out of Fiji games to save the integrity of the competition.

In the Scotland sevens quarters against England the Kiwi ref did not flash his yellow card to the England player who tackled our lineout jumper in the air and let him fall heavily to the ground, like every other referee has done every time.

The same offence was made by New Zealand against Fiji in Hong Kong Sevens final and the NZ player was yellow- carded. In another incident an England player ran against his own player in front of him and then used him as a shield to hide from the Fijian tackler.

Two offences. First it was accidental offside and second obstruction and the Kiwi referee let the English score a try while players from both teams had anticipated a penalty which was not forthcoming. Maybe my rule book is obsolete other referees don't think so.

However, now that the season has ended we hope our Pacific neighbours will review the incidents highlighted and make amends. But congratulations to Gordon Tietjens and his men and to Tomasi Cama who is tipped to be the player of the year.

As for the gallant Fiji team the London Sevens victory has proven to be the most prestigious in terms of crowd attendance.

The biggest crowd ever to watch a single tournament turned up at Twickenham to watch our boys display champagne sevens rugby and cleaned up the arena of the top gladiators in one sweep of the hand.

World Sevens champions Wales were thrashed on Saturday night, England, New Zealand and Samoa al fell on their faces on Sunday as the Fijians marched to a sensational victory in London.

Metuisela Talebula's all-round skills in attack and defence makes him the most valuable Fijian player ever and the more he stays in the HSBC series the more his unique talents will be exposed and the more his value will grow.

For halfback Joji Raqamate or Razor as this column has always nicknamed him, displayed his sharp skills like a razor blade cutting through butter.

He grew in confidence at every tournament and when he gets full confidence he will be able to display the cheekiness and other skills akin to the sevens maestro Waisale Serevi. Serevi named Raqamate his best player in the Uprising Sevens tournament.

Nikola Matawalu will have to fight back hard for the number one spot if he is considered again and we thank the Sevens coaching team and management on making a firm stand on dicipline to show the players that no one is indispensable.

What started off as a dream has become reality for coach Dere and Waqa.

Fiji's free-running game has been restored and the ambidextrity and Fijian flair was the icing on the cake.

Jimilai Naikadawa's lack of pace was pinpointed as a chink in the Fiji armour in Scotland. But the Naitasiri warrior lifted his performance in London in defence and attack scoring the winner against England in the quarterfinals.

Isake Katonibau was named best player in the Marist Sevens and he fitted in like a glove in the Fiji team combination.

He needs a bit more confidence in some situation to have a go himself and test out the outside defence.

They were all heroes out there and the smiles and body language displayed again proved the fact that Fijians play best when they are relaxed.

The late Fiji seves coach Ratu Kitione Vesikula, XVs former coaches Brad Johnstonbe and Ilivasi Tabua all understood the Fijian mentality and preached that Fijians play best with smiles on their faces. Their ball play has them in the class of world famous entertaining US basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters.

Fiji rugby fans need to give these Fijian sevens team a big homecoming reception. The Fiji government, the Fiji Rugby Union and fans owe these men a big party at Albert Park.

The government will have earned millions more of tourist dollars in years to come because of the London display in front of a record crowd.

The FRU owes Dere and his men a big Thank You party for bringing back lost prestige to Fijian rugby after the 2011 RWC disaster.

We the fans owe them a lot in terms of the gratifying feeling we've had all day and the smiles and happiness and pride of being a Fijian. Come on everybody let's give them a hero's welcome home.

They thoroughly deserve it.