Hope­fully 7s en­ergy, in­ter­est will flow on to our 15s game

Fiji Sun - - Comment -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.