Sevens reality

Fred Wesley | Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Waisale Serevi is still a name that attracts attention.
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley

Yesterday the former sevens rugby wizard made a short stopover in the Capital City to wrap up a few things en route to Hong Kong.

He flies out this morning.

It was difficult not to notice that Serevi still attracted people wanting to take selfies with him yesterday for instance.

It is when you actually get to sit with him and discuss sevens rugby, that you notice the passion that reverberates from within him.

Over the years, the game has been part of Serevi's life. And he continues to be a vital part of the game, taking it to the global audience.

Yesterday he spoke with emotion about the challenges the national side faces in World Rugby's sevens world series.

He spoke about commitment, enthusiasm, technical and tactical knowledge of the game, and passion.

He spoke about the importance of time management on the field, the ability to understand opposition teams, and the ability to balance our natural talents and flair against structured sevens rugby.

He spoke about the top teams of the world in the series, the changing standards, and their understanding of our game.

He was optimistic about Fiji's game, suggesting we hadn't really dropped in standards, but we had hit a wall while the top sides had lifted their game, and drawn up battle plans that effectively nullified our off-loading game.

Sevens rugby, the sevens maestro said, had picked up in leaps and bounds.

Teams had adjusted their game plans accordingly in the wake of the Rio Olympics.

While we were wasting valuable seconds holding up possession on attack for instance, opposition teams were quickly taking it away from broken play, effectively spreading our defence, and forcing us to overrun their attacks.

It effectively means we have our work cut out.

That means national coach Gareth Baber has the massive challenge of plotting a course that takes all these into account.

And the most important message Serevi left yesterday was about our commitment as fans of the Fijian brand.

With Baber signed up until the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the onus now falls squarely on the shoulders of the eighth man, the fans, to get behind our coach.

Fans can't hate Baber he says. Like it or not, he is our national coach until the Olympics.

The message is clear. Let's allow Baber room to manoeuvre. Let's allow him the space to take our game to the next level.

That means providing the platform he needs to set his list of priorities, and prepare us over the coming months for the start of the next sevens world series.

A master goosestepper in his prime, Serevi wasn't about to sidestep this important issue.

Perhaps we should take time out to absorb that.

Go Fiji, go.

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