Editorial comment – Factoring in a 7s buffer period

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama presents the 2019 Fiji Sportsman Award to Seremaia Tuwai Vunisa while Tattslotto’s Sereana Browne looks on at the Vodafone Arena in Suva. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Our all-time 7s rugby top try-scorer Jerry Tuwai has made no bones about the commitment we must show in the world series.

He said receiving the 2019 Fiji Sportsman of the Year Award on Saturday night was a timely escape from the normal routine, yet it did not take away the pressure as the World Rugby 7s Series nears the halfway point.

“The pressure is always there,” Tuwai said.

“It’s all about teamwork.”

As the side prepares for the US leg of the series, in Los Angeles, fans will no doubt be keenly anticipating big things.

It’s to be expected though following that top effort in Sydney early this month.

The team is expected to fly out this week for the LA 7s which is scheduled for February 29 to March 1 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

It’s located about 20 minutes from the LA International Airport which makes it accessible for fans travelling by plane.

The venue, interestingly, would also be hosting the 7s rugby games of the 2028 Olympic Games.

It also hosts the LA Galaxy soccer club and the NFL’s LA Chargers American football club.

There is growing interest on our campaign now following our early dismal efforts in Dubai, Cape Town and Hamilton in New Zealand.

The Sydney victory appears to have cast aside our demons, and given fans some reason to be joyful and optimistic.

However, as Tuwai pointed out, there is pressure nonetheless.

That pressure will build up as we count down to the ultimate challenge, our defence of the Olympic Games gold medal title in Tokyo, Japan in late July.

That’s when the big guns of the abbreviated version of rugby will come out with their A-game.

There can be no doubts about the impact the event has on teams heading to Japan.

It starts though in the world series.

That’s why events such as the LA 7s are important.

They provide the base for strong campaigns.

This season is a touch different though with the rescheduling of the much anticipated Hong Kong 7s, moved from April to October.

It means we miss out on exposing our team to two top level tournaments leading up to the Olympic Games as the Singapore 7s has also been rescheduled to the same month.

National coach Gareth Baber has a challenge to keep his men focused on the task at hand.

That means focusing on the LA 7s, then moving on to the Vancouver 7s the next weekend, and raising the tempo for the London 7s on May 23-24 and the Paris 7s on May 30-31.

He has a buffer month without the Hong Kong event in April.

Baber’s work is obviously cut out.

His views on the game, the preparation of Fijian players, the influence of family support, his parents and family, the influence of religion, and the reputation of the national side, have given fans an insight into this man.

It is comforting to know there is great passion in there for development and nurturing of our youngsters to take on big roles.

We say go Fiji, go.

More Stories