This week has seen Gareth Baber celebrate his 47th birthday, but he is in no mood to celebrate; at least not just yet.
He has told fans to avoid the players at their London hotel ahead of the penultimate leg of the HSBC World Series at Twickenham this weekend. Baber has asked for the Fiji High Commission to issue a statement declaring that a planned celebration party on Sunday to be cancelled to ensure that the team remain laser-focused on overthrowing the USA at the top of the standings.
Baber has obviously spotted the preparation as the most critical factor, and he is looking to avoid any risk of distraction or complacency. The next two weeks will be vital for Fiji, as they sit three points behind the USA.
The Fiji players will be among the most supported teams in London this weekend, and they were quick to acknowledge the importance of it. The majority of fans accepted the wishes of Baber and have recognised the need to remain focused on the task at hand.
The Fiji Airways Fiji Sevens team departs for the Paris & London HSBC 7s legs.
Fans & well wishers gathered at the Nadi airport to bid the team farewell. pic.twitter.com/4WGgEMnhV6
— Jese Tuisinu (@JeseTuisinu) May 14, 2019
Remember it was a very similar circumstance to this last season; with Fiji looking like they had already settled the series before being overtaken at the line by South Africa in the final leg of the World Series in Paris.
Baber and the High Commission are keen to avoid another mishap, especially with the defence of their Olympic title only 12 months away.
The pleas were released via a statement to the Fijian diaspora. It read: “We refrain from all planned visitations to our 7’s gladiators. As we are all aware, the two tournaments ahead are critical to the team, and we, therefore, seek your indulgence and support in assisting our boys in focussing on the task in hand.”
The High Commission also confirmed the planned post-London celebration on Sunday evening had been cancelled. The statement continued: “The Mission, following advice and request from the team management has had to make the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the reception for the Fiji 7’s rugby team.”
Fiji will be up against France, Kenya and Samoa in Pool B for the World Series in London.
Main photo credit: World Rugby