Baptism of fire
1 November, 2016, 12:00 am
After browsing through Gareth Baber’s impressive fact file in The Fiji Times 29/10/16, he looks the ideal coach, that can carry the hopes of a sevens crazy nation into the new season.
While Baber has made significant inroads into the development of sevens in Hong Kong, he knows that Hong Kong is a minnow in rugby sevens.
As for Wales, even though they surprisingly won the sevens World Cup in 2009 under coach Gareth Williams, their performance on the sevens circuit over the years remain lacklustre.
Fiji is a totally different kettle of fish altogether. For Baber, this would be his baptism of fire on the high end of the international sevens competition, as he has the daunting task of moulding the best sevens team in the world, based on his much vaunted qualifications and knowledge of the abbreviated code.
I believe Fiji rugby had time to act in choosing a successor when Ben Ryan was firm on his decision earlier this year to retire after the Olympics, however, a lot of time was wasted in brooding over Ryan’s decision to quit. So in a last ditch attempt, I believe they trawled their lines into deeper waters, hoping to catch the big fish, but it seems all were taken.
And now, in an impending twist of fate, Nacanieli Cawanibuka as interim coach will take our sevens team through the first leg of the 2016/17 IRB World Rugby Sevens Series.
Should Fiji win both tournaments in Dubai and South Africa under Cawanibuka, and then we lose in the second leg with Baber in charge or vice-versa, then that would definitely spell disaster for either coach.
The task ahead for Baber will be difficult to achieve, but not impossible. This time, he has at his disposal some of the finest sevens players in the world. And with the backing and support of diehard patriotic fans across the globe, he has high hopes the players won’t let him and the nation down.