Rectifying the errors

The national 7s side yesterday settled for 9th position on the World Rugby Sevens Series after the opener in Dubai. Picture: SUPPLIED

GARETH Baber and his coaching team will have to do something sensational in South Africa this weekend to restore public confidence regarding their HSBC Sevens campaign following the disaster in Dubai.

After ten years participation in Dubai it is the first time our Fiji Airways 7s team have failed to make the cup quarter-finals after being eliminated to the challenge cup.

Argentina reopened unhealed wounds in Fijian fans, who are still reeling from a failed Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan with the shock loss to Uruguay and now the old Fijian sickness of “vakawelewele” or lackadaisical attitude has crept up again.

We were leading comfortably against Argentina 21-10 towards the final moments of the pool game and the Pumas ran in two converted tries to win 24-21 at the hooter of fulltime.

We had to pile up the points against France in the final pool game but there was no urgency displayed in trying to score more points as players took time even in pointing to the heavens and seemed to be unaware of the drastic situation they were letting themselves into.

With the squad made up of new players and young veterans the media coverage is always a distraction as Fijian players are hailed as the Olympics champions, defending HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions and master of the magic sevens skills.

This sometimes gets us big headed and we lose our competitive edge and focus.

There were also a lack of commitment in defence. One of the new and young Argentina players outstepped four Fijian players to score under the posts.

Other tackles were halfway incomplete as we failed to ground the ball carriers.

Letting him go as he falls to the ground we are missing out on the aggressive element of riding down the tackled players to meet the hard earth and giving him second thoughts.

Without the rough stuff they gain confidence and fearlessly run around our defence when we tire.

Baber is looking at the big picture of building up fitness to peak at the Olympics but we need to win the series to be seeded number one.

Some of our senior players were one step behind in speed and on the first day we fumbled more ball.

The weather was wet but other teams performed better in this area and shows how organised in preparation they were.

Every Fiji sevens coach in the past has come across this moments of loss of concentration in players and pinpoint it to welfare problems and family distractions. Fiji Rugby Union this season brought in veteran and former sevens coach Tomasi Cama to help in the HSBC campaign and his presence was vital in maintaining consistency in the finals legs of the series.

Successful Olympics coach Ben Ryan and his strength and conditioning coach Naca Cawanibuka met the same fate in the buildup to the Olympics in 2015 when Fiji lost pool matches to Samoa and New Zealand and ended up in the Bowls competition in the USA Sevens.

They recovered to rise to Olympic glory in 2016.

Meanwhile, Saiasi Fuli is hitting the right chords with his Fijiana team and the draw with Spain and win against Ireland were spectacular to watch as we also have the speed out wide to outrun the opposition to the tryline.

We congratulate the girls on their performance and their win was so welcomed on a weekend when our higher paid men failed to fire.

Hopefully, Fuli will stick to his guns and mould his own style of sevens coaching the way he knows works best and disregard the many criticisms and so-called advice given by fans.

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