Fiji Rugby looks to local tournaments to prepare for Olympics

Fiji captain Meli Derenalagi races away from the Wales defence. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Fiji Rugby will introduce a new Sevens tournament next year to prepare for the 2021 Olympic Games.

Chief Executive John O’Connor said Fiji Rugby had to be innovative after World Rugby had cancelled most of Sevens Series this year because of Covid-19.

“The HSBC 7s Series had been an integral part of our preparations for the Olympics as such, we have had to look at other alternatives to give our players the needed preparation before the Olympics,” he said.

“Competing against the top players in their respective club teams allows the coaches to see our national players perform against other top sevens players in Fiji thus helping our sevens team prepare well for the Olympics.”

The Super 7s Series will kick-off in January and is aimed to replicate an environment similar to the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The top 16 men’s and women’s club teams will be selected based on results from domestic competitions. The teams will compete across four tournaments, and will accumulate points like the World Rugby event.

Players in the current National squads will be released to play for their respective clubs.

Fiji captains Meli Derenalagi and Raijieli Daveua. Photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Fiji Coach, Gareth Baber, said they want to have tough pool games to see how the teams progress.

“It’s utilising the crown jewels we have here in Fiji which is the quality of 7s rugby across the country and then just giving a bit of focus so these players are playing six tough games in every competition they are involved in,” he said.

“We have some great grassroots tournaments around the country and we have played in some of them, but ultimately we need to be a little bit selfish on time as we are focusing on preparing the players who can reach the Olympic team and be the best quality they can come July.”

The extended squad will play for their respective clubs in the beginning of the Series and will gradually come together in the later stage of the series, Baber added.

It will also provide an opportunity for the Fijiana sevens side to challenge themselves against some of the top women’s clubs in the country.

Fijiana Coach, Saiasi Fuli, said the new series would enable them to monitor the best players moving forward in preparation for the 2021 Olympic Games.

The first tournament of the Super 7s Series is scheduled to kick-off on 22 January at Lawaqa Park.


Source: RNZ