Hopefully 7s energy, interest will flow on to our 15s game
Today we celebrate our champion Vodafone Fijian 7s reps’ triumphant back to back World 7s series achievement.
It’s our first back to back series win and a perfect buildup to the Rio Olympics. It put us as top seed in Rio. Coach Ben Ryan is in an enviable position of being spoilt for choice with his talented and star-studded squad. His challenge is who does he leave out. Apart from Jarryd Hayne, the rest are experienced and skillful sevens players. Most of them have been playing together for the past two seasons so they know each other. It’s a credit to Ryan because he has meticulously built up this squad with an eye on Rio. Ryan may not be with us today in the celebrations as he has a deserved break in England with his family. But don’t worry his heart will be here. Secondly, it would be a good time for him to quietly reflect on the team performance this season just ended and look forward to Rio. He is in a commanding position heading to Rio. But for today there is cause for celebration. It’s been an incredible run for captain Osea Kolinisau and his men. At times we thought things might all fall apart. But they bounced back, held their composure and ended on top of the world. When celebrations end today, our focus on Rio begins. Our series victory will not count in the Olympics. What will count is whether we win that gold. That’s the ultimate goal. The Olympics is bigger than the World 7s series. If we win gold we can attract global brands and products like Adidas and Nike as our sponsors and that could mean mega bucks for Fijian rugby. Imagine pictures of our 7s reps being plastered in big billboards around the world. The Olympics will lift our Fijian rugby brand to new heights. The financial spinoff would be huge. This issue is causing a debate in New Zealand about whether the New Zealand Rugby Football Union has underestimated the value of 7s in the preservation of the All Blacks brand. Unlike Ryan, Sir Gordon Tietjen is in an unenviable position. His team has not been performing well and to be thumped 42-14 by the United States in the quarterfinals of the London 7s is as bad as it can get for a side that has dominated the World Series for many years. Sir Gordon can only work with the players he has got. There are better players he wants to get but he can’t. Otago Highlanders’ and All Blacks Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo plus utility back Matt Faddes and Hurricane’s Ardie Savea would greatly strengthen Sir Gordon’s side. NZ players have a choice whether to switch to 7s for Rio and return to 15s after that. There is also the pressure from the Super rugby franchises. Luckily for us here we do not have that problem. Players are competing to get into the Fijian team. The Fiji Rugby Union, Government and the people are unitedly behind Ryan’s men. Hopefully the interest and energy generated by 7s will flow on to 15s.
Vodafone Fijian 7s team celebrates their win in London.