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Sevens rugby fever

Kameli Rakoko
Monday, April 08, 2013

It seems the men's sevens success has not rubbed off onto our female counterparts as far as winning tournaments is concerned

They lost all pool matches but avoided the wooden spoon by winning their last game.

But they are almost getting there and judging by the scores of their pool matches, they were just simply outscored by the opposition.

It means that they scored and were scored against and since we did not have the privilege of watching any of their games, we can deduce that it would not take any major readjustments before we hit winning form again.

If our team did well in the first half and were outplayed in the second then we need to work on our endurance.

One of the features of women's rugby is their proper use of basic skills like passing and tackling and none of the sophisticated passing moves we see in men's rugby.

It's because most of them or all of them only played competitive rugby when they got older while boys began playing with the rugby ball once they learned to run.

Girls are expected to do the dishes and laundry and clean the house in the afternoons after school and not expected to be playing touch rugby in the village green or seashore with the boys.

But time is changing and time will come when boys and girls play touch rugby or volleyball together in the afternoons.

However, integrating touch rugby with sevens rugby for women will reap quick results as far as building skills go.

Most Australian and overseas rugby women sevens representatives are former touch rugby stars.

They represented their country first in touch rugby before going onto play sevens rugby.

Skills learnt from touch rugby blends well with the free running sevens style that we play.

The depth of sevens talents in Fiji merely reflects the intensity of touch rugby practices every afternoon.

Once in Yanuya Village in the Malolo group of islands, I was awakened in the early morning to the sound of thudding feet and stilled laughter in a makeshift rugby ground that included houses and trees in it.

Schoolboys play touch rugby in the morning when it is still dark before going to school. There's a good two to three hours of free time before breakfast.

It also included young men who were going off to work early tothe nearby hotels and not coming home until late.

The joy of touch rugby is such that they had to fit it in to their busy schedule, somehow.

Meanwhile, our national sevens team seems to be getting all the accolades and big bucks after their sterling and unforgettable victory in Hong Kong and making it as far as the quarter-finals in Japan.

Sponsors Digicel has also gifted our boys with $82,000 and they deserve what they have received including the welcome reception at Nadi Airport.

Reading the contributions made by rugby fans in the papers, everyone is definitely in unison with coach Alivereti Dere on two things.

To bring back Nikola Matawalu, Metuisela Talebula and Waisea Nayacalevu and that to invite Waisale Serevi and Tomasi Cama to be part of the World Cup Sevens team to Russia in June.

After watching some of the teething problems by our new players in Japan, the inclusion of experienced players will see us at the forefront of bringing back the Melrose Cup.

The only question now is how long will the overseas-based players camp and train with the local boys to shed off the extra mass and chip them down to bone and muscle fitness.

In 2005 even Gordon Tietjens criticised Fiji's decision to include overseas players in fifteens mode in our world cup sevens team.

But we won the Melrose Cup using their experience.

But this went against us in 2009 as our overseas players brought in at the eleventh hour also became our weak links as they had lost their sevens flair and form.

These two things should be kept in mind by our decision makers as the players that won in Hong Kong last year may not be of the same calibre.

Definitely they will be more experienced but they would have also have had their share of injuries and most of all they will have a pay cut when they come to play for their country.

French clubs have been reported to offer large sums of money to our players not to play in the previous 2011 RWC in New Zealand but hopefully it is off-season in June for them that there are no important club commitments.

One of the few men who put country first before his club was Serevi and it is the more important that we have him and Cama on our team management to instill national pride to our boys.

It has been reported that this is the last Melrose Cup tournament as sevens rugby will be played for every four years in the Olympic Games and there's no need for a sevens world cup.

So let us leave no stones unturned as we strive to win a record three times world sevens championship in Russia in June.

Let's bring the Melrose Cup home to stay.

Go Fiji Go.

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