Editorial comment – Good, clean fun and games

Fiji Airways 7s Head Coach Gareth Baber guides players during the training session at Prince Charles Park in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND/FILE

National sevens rugby coach Gareth Baber makes an interesting point.

He has seen the result of yellow cards at international level and it’s not good at all.

It has left an indelible impression on his mind.

He reckons it is a critical area that needs work, and that’s something he is focused on in the lead-up to the next leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Hamilton, New Zealand, and in Sydney, Australia.

Baber is now working on trying to minimise and maybe end the problem.

The World Rugby Sevens Series champions received 12 yellow cards in two tournaments which was more than what they got on the 2018/2019 series.

While Baber has focused on drills to assist our players minimise mistakes on the field, there must be a concerted effort right across the board though in Fijian sevens rugby.

That means engaging players right from club level to understand and value discipline on the field.

It means engaging local referees to police discipline on the field during games, and coaches to be more proactive during training sessions.

“There is a way that we play here in Fiji and that is on the edge all the time and we will see it again at the Coral Coast 7s, that we have to referee tougher and we have to ensure that the players are coached in a direction and for them to understand there is a risk to what they’re doing all the time,” Baber said.

“Too often where I see yellow cards in Fiji where the players come off the field and after two minutes they’re back in, and as if nothing has happened. But at international level, that’s a try or possibly two tries if the opposition have the ball for those two minutes.”

We are scheduled to play Samoa in our first pool match at 12.47pm on Saturday, January 25, in Hamilton.

We then take on Australia at 6.35pm and the last pool match will be against Argentina at 11.57am on Sunday. It is encouraging to note the attention now focused on discipline.

It is a crucial part of the game.

We will win or lose games based on our discipline and attention to detail on the field, and under pressure.

The onus though is on our players to adapt to the laws that govern the game, understand the implications of their actions, and focus on playing good, clean rugby.

Our forays in Dubai and Cape Town have shown us loopholes that must be fixed urgently if we are to do well in Hamilton and Sydney.

There is no shortcut. We must cover our bases well.

Meanwhile, we look forward to this week’s 7s tournament in the Coral Coast.

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