2018 RWC 7s: Fast and furious

Fiji Airways Fiji 7s coach, Gareth Baber speaks to his players during their scrimmaging session with Tabadamu at the Uprising Beach Resort grounds in Pacific Harbour on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

IT’S going to be a short and sweet, go hell for leather tournament at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco this weekend.

Playing only three games to reach the final and for top sides such as our Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team, this will be something new to rugby fans.

There will be none of the gruelling tournaments of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series but an explosion of rugby, fast and furious.

Melrose Cup battle is here once again and the sevens fever may have not really caught on like bushfire, compared with the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, as this is expected to change suddenly in the final days and hours.

The FIFA World Cup had been a distraction and to get the ball rolling was the unexpected news that sevens star Eroni Sau had been dropped from the final 12-member team to take the field in San Francisco.

But given the depth of talent and international names in the team we have faith that Gareth Baber and his coaching team have done their homework and have had sleepless nights to make a brave decision.

As for the players who missed out they should be proud even though they are not playing they have provided the strong competition to make their teammates much better players.

Josua Vakurinabili, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Waisea Nacuqu and Sau have helped lift the standards and they should be proud of the team’s achievement.

Baber, his technical team and skipper Jerry Tuwai until the final minute before kick-off should be able to assure Fijian rugby fans that they have ticked all the boxes right to the little details.

For strength and conditioning expert Nacanieli Cawanibuka we have faith that his experience will show not only that we have the fittest team but the well recovered muscles to keep the ball stuck to the hands to create the magic Fijians are well renowned for.

A box defending champion Nadroga failed to tick on Saturday.

In simple terms it would mean that they have trained hard to control the controllable and prayed the hardest to gain the favor of the one who controls the uncontrollable.

They need the support of the Fijian rugby fans to help the country become the first team to win the Melrose Cup three times.

The form of Jasa Veremalua, Leone Nakarawa and Semi Kunatani to blast through the opposition and the deceptive running of Tuwai and his backline will be something to savour this weekend. Semi Radradra and Kunatani’s aggressive defence and attacks would be one of the big reasons Baber decided to leave Sau out.

The stop tackles will be handled by Radradra and Josua Tuisova while Kunatani will snare everyone within his web with diving tackles.

At his best form the long limbed forward is like a meat skewer who tackles opponents one after the other during passing movements.

Soldier Alasio Naduva’s explosive running and Tuisova’s great attacking skills should provide us with enough space to score thrilling tries.

The main opposition for Fiji would come from New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia and United States wile Argentina, Wales Scotland, Ireland and Samoa have nothing to lose and should not be underestimated.

Fiji are favourites in single tournaments and with only three games to play to win the Cup there’s no need to conserve energy from the word go.

Forget the last-minute comebacks. Baber’s men have the opportunity and luxury of going hell for leather from the first whistle and put relentless pressure on every phase of play to rattle, unsettle the oppositions in the limited time frame.

Champions are not fluke shots or one event affairs even though we have had one-hit wonders in history. Being a champion is a way of life, a culture enhanced by positive minds who believe in themselves and believe it is their destiny and that nothing is impossible.

Only a few mortals have that special aura that can rub on to their team and teammates and to everyone under their care. Over the weekend we witnessed champion French coach Didier Deschamps produce a champion FIFA World Cup feat beating Croatia 4-2. Deschamps was the midfield enforcer in

France’s first FIFA world cup win in 1998.

At home we also witnessed former sevens rugby champion Jope Tuikabe produce a winning performance for the champion Suva side in the sensational 36-35 Skipper Cup victory against Nadroga.

Tuikabe was a member of Rupeni Ravonu’s 1997 champion side that won Fiji’s first Melrose Cup in Hong Kong.

In our current sevens team six members of the Rio Olympics team will be in action and the champion culture will have rubbed thoroughly on to the rest of the team including other officials and players. Champs over the years in rugby Nadroga may have lost the Skipper Cup but not their champion status as they will continue to become restless until they win again.

We failed to win the Commonwealth Games and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this year but this has only sharpened the killer instinct. We are already champions of the world in rugby sevens.

All Baber’s men have to do is to go out there and synchronise their meke moves into champion mode and bring the Melrose Cup back home. Go Fiji Go!!!!

More Stories