Fiji triumphed again in Las Vegas over the weekend with both South Africa and New Zealand failing to make the Cup Final. That Sevens rugby is on a high with the Olympics coming up later this year is an understatement but there are lessons to learn from the last tournament and Benedict is looking at what we should be learning from the Las Vegas Sevens…
Rugby still unites in the world of sevens – The Fijians where back in camp after Hurricane Winston. The aim to play was able to galvanise not just the players but also the people at home who followed the game. The theme as they left Fiji was to resemble strength over the disaster. Rugby players and fans all over the world united in different ways to help the Fijians.
A tough route to the final was not enough to stop them as they gave everything they had. At the end the Fijians managed to pip the Australians in the final. A game they looked set to lose. They then held a sign to some of their fans and to the world which said; ‘We are stronger than Winston’. It was a devastating natural disaster which affected some of the players and it is good to see them still show up, show case their talent and win the tournament. Well done Fiji, thank you rugby.
The officials will cost someone a medal – The referees are just not being consistent enough. From the supposed no arms tackle against the Blitzboks to the dubious calls that contributed to the loss of the Argentinians against the All Blacks there is a serious problem. Officials have contributed to result and outcomes in the entire series so far and they need to find a solution to rather not be the focal point of the game.
The world will be watching football and just as fans mourn and complain at how fragile, disappointed and unacceptable the simulation in football is. Rugby is set to provide the ultimate failure of officials in a game. Las Vegas 7s was also a highlight of the role officials’ play and at the rate this is all going someone will be very disappointed and could result in a lot more than angry press conferences should there be costly mistakes.
World rugby must stand up and fix this mess now rather than after the Olympics.
Transition from 15s to 7s – The stars that continue to descend upon the circuits from the 15s games have managed to raise both eye brows and produce a few smiles for many a fan. The biggest names at the Las Vegas 7s were Bryan Habana, Quade Cooper and Liam Messam. All three found it difficult to adapt to the new sport. 7s is now a different sport and requires a high level of specialisation. 15s players have carried over their strengths and weaknesses over to the code but managed to battle.
Quade Cooper had a true shocking game in the final. Came on when Australia looked set to win with a 15-0 lead but missed easy tackles, showed poor tackling technique and his handling errors led to the tries Fiji needed to win. Bryan Habana was a lot quieter. He managed to be introduced slowly into the game and may not have had the desired effect many expected.
The same can be said about Liam Messam who looked slow and slightly out of shape for the code. It could be costly to take a bunch of 15s stars to the Olympics considering the evidence of their poor showings.
Anyone can beat anyone? Kenya sent shockwaves when they sent the All Black 7s reeling as they thumped the All Blacks 7s 22-0. It was a surprising result. The Canadians also managed to produce a clinical performance as they beat an England side that had their worst tournament since 2008. The following day it became even more surprising as Kenya slumped to a defeat against Japan.
The Japanese playing some smart rugby that was rewarded with a sleek last minute try. The game is so beautiful that any of the sides on their day can beat anyone. Official forbid there will be a lot more shockers on the cards in the months to come and the sevens game is well embraced, fast paced and easily the game everyone can thrive at.
Seabelo Senatla is a star – The Stormers player has been at the peak of his powers this year and will be a shining light in the years to come in the 15s game.
For now, he is the boosting chance for the Blitzboks to get gold at the Olympics. Now second on the all-time try scoring list for the SA side with 127 after an impressive 11 tries the speedster may very well break the try scoring record before giving 15s a full go. South Africa has a gem and he has to be well looked after. The Seabelo star continues to shine brightly!