THERE was a lot of hype about this Fiji Water Centennial International 7s tournament especially from the parent body — the Fiji Rugby Union.
Hype or excitement, whatever you would like to call it, this tournament was our bid to host a leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
But just as we thought the newly-refurbished ANZ Stadium would boost our chances of bringing the world to Fiji, the International Rugby Board says that's not good enough to get the rights of hosting a leg of series here.
Rightfully though as IRB 7s manager Beth Coalter, the person in charge of the IRB 7s series, stressed there is no point having an international standard stadium almost two-thirds empty!
Sevens rugby is now an Olympic sport, making its debut in the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil and there is millions of dollars needed just to run the tournament.
Putting all the infrastructure in place to boost our broadcasting ability and other key areas will further add to the estimated initial $2million cost.
The tournament was held to celebrate Fiji's 100 years of rugby.
Riding high on the success of the centennial match between the Flying Fijians and Classic All Blacks in June this year, the FRU announced an exciting pool of teams for the Centennial 7s.
Kenya and South Africa, which would have spiced up the competition, were the two anticipated teams that pulled out a week before the tournament.
Argentina, France, USA, Fiji Barbarians (Wardens) and Fiji Warriors (Westfield Babas) played a round-robin basis on Friday before the top four qualified in the semis.
USA, with coach/player Matt Hawkins, gas man Carlin Isles, who Fiji didn't see much of, and Jack Edwards finished fifth and spent the final day on the stands.
Fiji Barbarians, captained by Levani Botia and with players such as Setefano Cakau, Setefano Rasekaia, Sevuloni Rakula and impressive Leo Naikasau, defeated Argentina 19-10 in the final.
Legend Santiago Gomez Cora, who is the coach of the Argentine side, admitted Fijians were always tough to play.
He was rather surprised to note the Fiji Barbarians was just a club in Fiji.
The regional tournament which was played concurrent with the Centennial 7s had Australia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, PNG, American Samoa and Fiji participating.
Samoa was crowned the new champions — the side won four times since the tournament was initiated in 2008 — after beating Digicel Fiji 7s 31-17 in the final.
Newly-appointed Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan unselfishly let his predecessor Alivereti Dere guide the team during the Oceania 7s and later revealed his willingness to work with the former national 7s skipper for the betterment of the game in the country.
Regardless of his performance with the Fiji 7s team in the past two seasons, Dere deserves an applaud for helping his successor Ryan with a smooth transition.
"Handing over a team, many coaches wouldn't do that, it shows what a great man Alivereti is and I'm keen to keep him with me if he would like to be involved in a program in the capacity going forward," Ryan said after the tournament.
The Cook Islands and American Samoa were the top non-core teams to qualify for next year's Hong Kong 7s tournament.
So what we didn't get right this time as FRU board member Berlin Kafoa stated "the board knew it won't get it right the first time".
What good had come out of this tournament is that we now know what areas we need to improve on in order to host a leg of the series. Hosting a tournament of such magnitude is no piece of cake, it requires the best.
Thirteen years back when Fiji first hosted an international 7s tournament, the only thing I knew about rugby then was probably Waisale Serevi.
Things have changed over the years, while Serevi remains in the hearts and minds of many, the beautiful game has become a professional affair with a clambering standard.
Our recognition as the masters of the abbreviated code isn't good enough, bringing a leg of the series home may happen but it will take time.
On that note, kudos to the FRU and the Marist Rugby Club for putting together the Centennial 7s, it was a good effort but can be done better.
Let's hope the FRU fulfills the requirements of the international body and we get the ticks on the 'to do' list they have for us.