Winning 7s manual

FIJI 7s will surely miss the services of one of its best coaches in Ben Ryan but the country is fortunate that the Englishman has left behind a 7s manual for the future national 7s teams to emulate.

It is the same 7s program and values that enabled the national side to create history by winning is first Olympics gold medal let alone winning the HSBC World Rugby 7s series back to back for the first time.

And the man who was also an integral part of Ryan’s winning team believes Fiji can maintain its 7s success if they follow the program being used by the 7s team during Ryan’s reign.

National 7s trainer and Fiji 7s assistant coach to the Rio Olympics Nacanieli Cawanibuka says it comes down to having the right players working together with a strong management team in a team environment that has a strong winning culture that is coach-led and looks after the welfare of players.

“Fiji will always have the players with talent to perform and win on the world stage,” the former national rep said,

“Players will come into the team and then move on to overseas contracts or they might be in the team for a while or they might drop off due to injury or non-performance but key aspect is getting these talents and creating the environment with good coaching, training, player welfare programs to bring out the best in them.

“The processes within the team environment have been built on a very simple framework that Ben reiterated to many times in the past.

“It is important to understand what high performance sport is all about and our team environment in the past three years was based on this principle that governs most elite sports in the world —— “Coach Driven & Player Centered”.”

Cawanibuka said it basically came down to how well or how poorly this process would be carried out that determined the defining edge between the fine margins of winning and losing.

“The team culture that Ben brought into the program built over the past three years was established on key principles.”

“The principles are having a high work ethic, humility and loyalty, being a team player, being open minded, resilience to focus on process of preparation and the controllable and not get consumed by the uncontrollable and lastly is the off-the-field/on-the-field discipline. The off-field impacts the on-field performance. Get the off-field right (discipline, ethics, preparation).”

He said both management and players challenged to live and walk by these principles.

“It forms the basis of the team culture and identity.”

“From a rugby perspective requirements for players were:

* Have fitness levels higher than anyone else in the 7s rugby world. We had players who had gone above level 21’s, level 22’s in the Yoyo test, there were big 118kg forwards who were running level 20s in the Yoyos. When you have that kind of fitness that is highly influenced by the right physical preparation, and fueled by the right nutrition, and the mental fortitude to endure, then a big rock of performance is established.

* Core skills – catch and pass, 1 v 1 tackling, skills, understanding and decision making at the breakdown, game sense, game understanding and accurate skill application under pressure

* Set piece dominance -scrum, lineout, kick-off

* Selecting the right players based on merit that is objectively assessed to execute our game —— to win.

* Train to execute the high risk/high tempo Fijian way of playing winning rugby —— both to entertain on the field and more importantly to win on the score board.

* Player contribution to the game plan and agreeing with the coach on how we want to play the game based on our terms, and to our advantage to yield a winning performance.

* Having an underdog mentality —— we’re only as good as our next game, the past is irrelevant to the present challenge and outcome.

* Playing as a team. No individual star mentality – but TEAM.”

Cawanibuka said a vital part of the team makeup obviously was the management team being united on the vision and outcome goal.

“In summary, it comes down to having the right players working together with a strong management team in a team environment that has a strong winning culture that is coach led and looks after the welfare of players.”

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