Mental fitness critical in 7s rugby: Lala

Fiji reps, from left, Amenoni Nasilasila, Jerry Tuwai and Vatemo Ravouvou warm up on the cycles at Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: SUPPLIED

“MENTAL fitness is critical in the game of sevens rugby and Fiji needs to improve on this area in the next tournament.”

These are the words of former Fiji 7s rep and Hideaway Hurricanes local 7s team trainer, Sirilo Lala.

He believes it’s critical for players to remain mentally fit when pressured, especially in the elimination stages.

Lala also played for the Flying Fijians team and made his debut in 1999 when they defeated Uruguay 39-24. He said through his experience he discovered areas physical and mental fitness was important.

“Sevens rugby is just seven minutes in one half and there isn’t a time to waste once the first whistle is blown,” said Lala.

“The trick is to score first because we cannot afford catch up rugby. It only makes players tense when they are trailing, and without possession it’s quite difficult to make a comeback. So all of that affects the mind, so they need to learn to compromise.

“If they are lacking in the kick offs then counter rucks is another option, as long as they regain possession and score quick tries. but my point is to prevent catch up rugby because it will only pressure the players mentally and physically in the field.”

Lala said once the opportunity to score tries opens up, player s should make the most of it – because of the time frame in every match.

“In fifteens they play 80 minutes rugby and 15 players assist each other through breakdowns, phases, set pieces and other game plans, but for sevens rugby there’s only 14 minutes in each game which means there is no room for mistakes especially in the elimination stages against tough opponents, so they need to play smart and think fast,”

Meanwhile, the Fiji Airways mens 7s side plays France in its first match at 9.59pm on Saturday, before facing Kenya at 1.20am on Sunday. The team plays England at 5.0am in its final pool match.

The Cup quarter-final begins at 11.04pm on Sunday, semi-final will be held at 3.56am on Monday and the final is scheduled for 6.44am.

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