Editorial comment – 7s rugby challenge

Napolioni Bolaca, left, and Josua Vakurinabili during the Fiji 7s training session in the US. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJI RUGBY

IT’S interesting that national coach Gareth Baber is considering allowing members of the national side the chance to participate in regional and local tournaments.

It’s to keep them in shape for the final legs of the World Rugby HSBC 7s Series in Singapore and Hong Kong, he says.

The two tournaments have been shifted to October following the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease.

Baber said there was a possibility of holding a camp in Japan before the Tokyo Olympics.

While he’s noted this element of the 7s calendar, there is no doubt that rugby fans will be focused on the big one, at the premier sporting event on the planet —the Olympic Games.

That’s when we defend our gold medal title.

There can be no doubts about the importance of the Olympics.

It’s an event that leaves an indelible impression on the minds of millions of sports fans around the globe.

This is it! It is the epitome of sports for millions of sportsmen and women.

It’s an event that is highly anticipated every four years.

This year, we will be defending our title in Japan, against a field that is getting stronger.

Fans will be hoping attention is focused on getting our campaign on the right footing.

They will be hoping that all stops are pulled and a concerted effort is placed on raising our standards, our confidence level, focus, commitment, enthusiasm and passion.

It’s difficult to forget that effort in August, 2016. It was August 12.

There was an unmistakable look on the face of national skipper Osea Kolinisau when he led Fiji on to the Deodoro Stadium in Rio for the final of the Olympic Games 7s rugby competition.

There was a twitch on the side of his lips, appearing to shape what looked like the beginning of a smile.

He exuded confidence.

He was calm, but there was a glow in his eyes.

In fact you could see it in every member of the team.

At the tail end of a three-year run with our coach then, Ben Ryan, we were poised for a leap into the annals of global sports history.

Never before had Fiji been pushed onto such a stage, where the global audience figures reached dizzying heights.

We had won World Cups in the abbreviated version of the sport.

We had experienced the highs in the sport.

However, when all things are said and done, you’ve got to admit, the Olympic Games is different.

It is the premier sporting event on the planet.

This is a platform that has, over the years, embraced the attention of billions of people around the globe.

What a final that turned out to be!

We were on top of the world!

To get back to that stage will require a top level preparation.

That’s why this weekend’s USA 7s in Los Angeles must be one that we focus on.

It is the base we have to gauge how good we are at this moment in time.

The fact that we have lost two more opportunities to prepare our team for the Olympics places pressure on Baber to address this shortfall.

It is interesting that he is considering giving our players the chance to participate in regional and local tournaments.

All eyes will no doubt be focused on Los Angeles this weekend.

Fans will be hoping that win in Sydney early this month is the catalyst we need for change.

We say go Fiji, go. Bring on LA!

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