Rugby 7s in Fiji is like Brazilian football of the 70s: Baber
July 20, 2021 7:10 am
The Fiji 7s team during one of their training session [Source: Fiji Rugby]
After spending the last five years in the country, Fiji 7s Head Coach Gareth Baber has observed and learned a lot.
He took over from Ben Ryan and arrived in January 2017 and says sevens in Fiji is played as differently by one team as any international sport he has seen.
In an interview with the BBC, Baber compared Fiji 7s to Brazilian football teams of the 1970s or the great Australian cricket teams of the 1990s.
The national coach believes Fiji’s style comes from socio-economic reasons and geographical reasons.
Baber says there are fewer things that young men and women in Fiji have access to at the end of each day of schooling, it might be volleyball and some of those skills transfer into rugby.
He says when playing in wet conditions, players go into contact rather than make that pass and, if you go on the floor you might end up with a piece of stone or glass in your leg so you play the game at a height, four or five-foot rather than one foot.
Baber says skills are developed differently in that environment, learning and creating in an unstructured way, compared to being on a grass pitch with coaches either end telling you what to do.
[Source: Fiji Rugby]
The former Welsh 7s reps go on to say that kids farm alongside their parents, walk good distances to get to school, do chores at home in the evening before going out to play rugby and there are eight or nine-year-olds here in Fiji with the physique of a 17 or 18-year-old in a rugby academy in Britain.
Meanwhile, Baber and Team Fiji will move into the Olympic Games village on Thursday before the opening ceremony on Friday where Jerry Tuwai and Fijiana captain Rusila Nagasau are the flag bearers.
The men’s sevens rugby competition starts next Monday with Fiji taking on hosts Japan at 12pm in the first pool match followed by Canada at 8pm on the same day and the last group game against Great Britain next Tuesday at 12:30pm.