Fiji take lead in HSBC Sevens Series

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With another tournament win at the Singapore 7s, Fiji take the lead in HSBC Sevens Series. They leap past South Africa, and can see the Silverware ahead of them – with two legs left in the 2017/18 series.

The predictions of an underdog win was a little off the mark. The Fijians repaying the faith that their fans have provided, after not achieving the national sides goals for the Gold Coast. Yet, here in the humidity of Singapore, their current form see’s them virtually a threat all across the park. Neither Kenya or Canada could keep pace with the Fijians or Australian sides.

After the success here, can anyone stop the mighty Fiji 7s team? And is this a reflection of the teams bigger ambitions, going into the Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC7s) in July?

Fiji take lead in HSBC Sevens Series

Whatever fans say about the game of rugby sevens, one thing is constant.

You can never count out Fiji in a game of 7s!

And at the Singapore leg of the 2017/18 World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series, they proved it time and time again.

While missing out on the gold and the Commonwealth Games [which New Zealand won] the Fijian team is in fine form, and will be confident of regaining their World crown; with the Paris and London events coming up in June.

This weekend, the Fijians went undefeated, as did the Australians…until those two met in the Cup final. Full credit to the Aussie men, but when you don’t keep the pressure on the South Seas team, they will win in the end.

The video highlights will show how Maurice Longbottom and John Porch were outstanding. Yet, when it came to the crunch, one man in white stood tall. Alasio Sovita Naduva, the ‘super sub’ came on and stretched out his fresh legs, to help Fiji claim their fourth title this year.

DHL Performance Tracker

Over this season, the DHL Performance Tracker has been monitoring players ratings. A good measure of the men that play a full part in the game – not that finishers like Carlin Isles, Robbie Ferguson or Eroni Sau do not – but the DHL tracker shows a number of men whom reach high standards, over the full two day tournaments.

Ben O’Donnell of Australia showed his all round skills base at Singapore. The big unit is both a solid defender, but was also a regular feature in kick restarts, lineouts and the breakdown. Those set-piece areas, once a ramshackle zone in the early days. Now, that stage of the game is where better technique is earning the attacking or defending team, more time and space.

Leading this DHL Performance Tracker group, for the season, is Justin Douglas. His carries and offloads especially, have given Canada opportunity. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs have not reached their potential – in the World Series or, the Commonwealth Games.

If the Canadians can now return to their base, tend to fitness and recovery, but also look at their game plan. Going into July, teams must be peaking – not sitting back and ‘waiting for it to happen’.

Teams now tend to injuries/prepare for RWC7s

Sides who have suffered from injuries, can tend to their needs. New Zealand more so, but every one of the 15 core teams will have players to return to full fitness. With a full months rest, the Kiwi team can hope that men like Sam Dickson and co-captain Scott Curry can mend well, and the All Blacks 7s side can take a first-pick squad to Paris.

Each side will also have a focus on the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. Such a big event, gladly it follows the end of the World Series, but form and confidence this season must play it’s part.

And there, Fiji will be extremely confident. ‘On a roll’ some will say. Fair enough, but the Fijians are professional too. Gareth Baber has a group that have taken another step-up from where Ben Ryan led them to.

And the HSBC Sevens Series is still on the line. Two tournaments is a maximum of 40 points. But second place would earn 32 points – so one slip could bring the Blitzboks storming back into contention.

And for fans; and for the editing team of Jovilisi Waqa and Scott Hornell at Last Word on Rugby, we all know that ‘it is far from decided’ in 2018!

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In a month, the 2017/18 HSBC Sevens Series next heads to Europe. The London 7s will be held from June 2-3, followed quickly by the ‘finale in Paris’ a week later.

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