Sunday 21 January 2018

Fiji's Sevens excellence a lesson to take on board

Darren Cave
Darren Cave
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

On Saturday last at Twickenham, Fijian rugby marked its centenary with a celebration match against the Barbarians.

The South Sea Islanders lined out below full strength due to a number of their professionally contracted players being otherwise engaged.

Although clearly wrong, it is a fact of professional life in the oval ball code that we now take for granted. All things considered, the Fijian performance in a 43-19 defeat to a star-studded Barbarian side was admirable to say the least.

Can you imagine the outrage if Ireland were put in a similar position? Probably not, because it simply wouldn't happen.

But to add fuel to this particular injustice, at the same time in the Middle East the Fijian Sevens squad, under former England Sevens coach Ben Ryan, were lifting the cup after beating South Africa in the Dubai Sevens final.

However, it was the semi-final win over New Zealand (44-0) in the same competition that had the rugby world at large drawing breath.

With a population that's just a fraction of ours and far less financial resources available to them, the South Sea Islanders (Tonga and Samoa too) punch well above their weight.

For the record, our ladies gave it their best shot and at least held their own, but our men flopped.

When will the penny finally drop in the corridors of power? Sevens rugby is a spectacular game and provides invaluable skill and player development. It's time we tapped into that.

CAVE WOULD BE BETTER SERVED BY LETTING SILENCE DO THE TALKING

Darren Cave did his future prospects at the highest level few favours with his outburst during the week.

It was bad enough suggesting his "face doesn't fit" in the Ireland camp, but to then have a cut at Jamie Heaslip (supposedly in defence of Roger Wilson) was hardly a clever strategy going forward for Cave (above).

Take it from one who knows, Darren: sometimes you say it best, when you say nothing at all.

Irish Independent

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