The Fiji Times » 7s battle plan – Gollings eyes US, Samoa and South Africa next

The Rugby 7s World Cup in South Africa is more than action on the pitch for Fiji 7 coach Ben Gollings.

He said it was a tournament of mind due to the new format introduced by World Rugby compared to the norm of pool systems as they have been enjoyed since the inaugural meeting in 1993.

England then won by beating Australia 21-17 in Edinburgh.

Fiji won the 1997 and 2005 editions under magician of 7 Waisale Serevi.

The coaches were Rupeni Ravonu (late) and New Zealander Wayne Pivac. Gollings, Serevi’s nemesis then on the pitch but a best friend off it, said the 2022 edition in South Africa was like walking through a minefield – unknown and could explode with the wrong step .

“You don’t know precisely who you’re going to face,” Gollings said from Cape Town, which he said was a better host than South Africa’s capital.

“Johannesburg is the high city and luckily we are not there. We are in Cape Town, at sea level, and we have a few players who have played here.”

After their first pool match this morning (4:05am), Gollings expects the road to be arduous accompanied by the distractions of a foreign country and the opposition.

“We try to get players mentally and physically focused to counter distractions on and off the pitch. One thing we have is a noisy stadium and it is important that we prepare well so that we can hear each other on the pitch.

The former England skipper, aided by Viliame ‘The Stretcher’ Satala, who was part of Fiji’s last RWC Sevens victory in 2005, charted the way forward after this morning’s game.

“As we look beyond, the quarter-finals could be with USA or Samoa. We know both teams well, but we will be prepared. It’s a knockout tournament, so every match is a cup final and we’ll be prepared for it.

Since 2005, the Fiji 7s team had been coached by England’s Ben Ryan, who won the World Rugby Sevens Series and the 2016 Olympics, and Welshman Gareth Baber, who also won the series, and missed the Commonwealth Games, as has Gollings recently. None had won the RWC Sevens title.

“If the results go as planned, we will meet South Africa in the semi-finals. We know their game plan. They are nervous on their feet, they are elusive, they have a good structured scheme, especially in their kicking game. It’s going to be interesting because they have a bit of a new side to them based on the injuries they’ve had. It’ll be interesting to see how they play in the first round.

“For us it’s essential that we play our game on our feet. We don’t want to play too much in the break because they are quick in the break and they target us in that area. Our strength is playing on our feet and keep the ball alive and keep moving forward.

“If we play hard it will cause a few more problems for South Africa. Keeping the ball alive against South Africa is extremely important. We will focus on those areas.

About Mitchel McMillan

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