Fiji sevens programme benefits from government funding boost

By Michael Hudson

Fiji Sevens programme has received a sum of F$2.1m (£770,000) from the government to help the national teams achieve their objectives.

The funds, which is derived from the annual budget, will be a big boost to the men’s team as they aim to defend the Olympic gold they won in 2016 in Rio.

Sevens players from Fiji are often tempted to switch to 15s and the funds will also help Fiji retain players and management by improving their contracts according to the Fiji Times.

Fiji head coach Gareth Baber noted there’s been an increase in financial support and is delighted the funds arrived in good time before the Olympics.

“There is a rise in financial support and the money has come in 14 months before the Olympics. As was shown when Fiji won gold in Rio, it’s a huge strategic thing for the country as a whole,” Gareth was quoted as saying by Rugby Pass.

Most of the players who won Rio gold are now playing 15s in Europe and Baber said he would call some of them to defend their title.

“A lot has been said about European-based players and I will continue to look at them, but there is a reality about the conditioning base of a sevens and 15s player. What I’m blessed that in Fiji every player who has ended up playing in Europe has a background in sevens,” said Baber.

“That means their ability to move between the two is a lot better than other players around the world. Guys like Leone Nakarawa (Racing) and Viliame Mata (Edinburgh) can do it quickly. One of the things I wanted when I came to Fiji was to build on what had already been achieved while also creating systems in the sevens programmes that mean whoever takes over from me will move that on again.

“This block of four or five months is crucial in the training and physical development of the players who are in the hot seats preparing for the next World Rugby Sevens Series and the Olympic Games. Of course, at the moment it is key that everyone gets some rest and spends time with family, but always sitting there is what’s coming next to get to where we want to become 2020 in Tokyo.”

The men’s team are on holiday after winning the HSBC World Sevens series. The women’s team are 10th on the women’s world series standings and cannot achieve Olympic qualification through the world series. They will have to go through the regional qualifiers.

Main photo: Twitter

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