Editorial comment – Laying the base right

National Fiji Airways 7's team bonding during the training at Albert Park. Picture: RAMA/FILE

FIJI coach Gareth Baber believes defence will be the key to securing the 2019 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship in Suva this weekend.

The event starts today. Baber reckons the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan catapulted this facet of the game onto a high plane. “As we saw in the world cup recently, defence wins tournaments,” he said.

“We will be working hard on our defence systems.”

Attention will shift to strengthening our defensive shape and discipline.

There can be no doubts about the fact that teams that will move on to participate in the World Rugby 7s Series will head into Suva to test their game systems and processes.

It’s an opportunity to work on specific areas of our game.

That means identifying roles around specific areas of the game as a build-up to the start of the 2019-2020 series in Dubai.

We are scheduled to play Niue today at 1.34pm in our opening game.

We then take on Japan SDS at 7.26pm. We face New Caledonia at 3.02pm tomorrow and play our final pool game against New Zealand at 7.26pm.

Fifteen teams from around the region and Japan are part of the event.

They are American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, New Zealand, Japan SDS, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

This is where our preparations must continue as we build up to the start of the World Rugby 7s Series, and the ultimate goal, to defend our title at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, next year.

This is where the foundation is laid. How we fare later on will start now.

This is when the base is strengthened.

This is when our players are exposed to high level games, moulding them into top players when the pressure mounts.

This is the sort of exposure we desperately need in fifteens rugby, when we can truly be competitive against tier one nations on a regular basis.

There is no time and room for procrastination.

Baber’s challenge will be to ensure we embrace all that we can in the preparatory stages, and stay focused on targets we set ourselves.

We wish all the participating teams at the Oceania 7s all the very best.

May rugby be the winner at the end of the tournament.

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