Matawalu: Expect games to intensify

Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s captain, Ana Naimasi, second left, pictured with the five visiting team captains during the Mini 7s tournament captain's photoshoot at the Fiji Airways hanger in Nadi yesterday. Picture: FIJI RUGBY

Rugby fans and enthusiasts in the Western Division will have something to look forward to this weekend when the second leg of the Mini International Women’s 7s tournament takes place at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

Fiji Rugby Union operations officer, Tiko Matawalu, says the tournament will undoubtedly develop the sport of rugby in the country.

He also mentioned that the tournament will provide the Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s side enough preparation before heading out to compete in international 7s tournaments.

“Having the NZ, Australian, French, and USA teams here for this mini 7s provides great game time to our Fijiana 7s Team.

“It also helps us build towards hosting the International 7s Tournament in the future,” Matawalu said.

The tournament features the top four teams in the World Rugby Series, including France, New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America, and Fiji.

“The second round of the Fiji Airways Mini 7s will be a more competitive one with USA joining in and Australia fielding two teams.

“We will have six teams altogether where the format will allow for ranking playoffs to determine how they are ranked at the end of the mini 7s series.

“For that, we will expect the games to intensify and more unveiled from these international teams.”

Matawalu added that more tournaments as such should be held in the country from time to time, to continue with the development of 7s rugby locally.

“Yes, I believe we should have more tournaments like this, not only locally.

“It is now up to the 4-5 International Unions to take it further by having this as an annual event, maybe with each union hosting one which will give them like 4-5 high-level tournaments in a year besides the limited HSBC 7s they are normally part of.”

He also thanked all participating teams for initiating and agreeing to be part of the tournament.

“We are thankful to the team coaches for each participating team, for initiating this event as they see the best way to keep their respective teams in top shape.”

Looking over the first leg of the tournament which was held in Suva last weekend, Matawalu said there had been tough competition from all teams and was expecting a similar outing this weekend.

“Well, we had France who has been here for over three weeks and spending two weeks in Sigatoka maximising their opportunities at the sand dunes.

“They seem to be the team to watch last weekend.

“It was a great start for all the teams, and they had an opportunity to play two rounds of round robin where teams play each other twice.

“There were some mixed results as none of the teams dominated throughout however had equal shares of dominance throughout.

“We are talking about the four top women 7s teams playing here and we can’t expect an easy ride for any.”

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