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Ex-Fiji 7s coach poses 15s question in wake of Dubai Sevens blowout

By Chris Jones
Fiji training session prior to the Dubai Emirates Airline Rugby Sevens 2021 Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Former Fiji 7s coach Peni Veidreyaki has questioned the wisdom of letting so many of the country’s gold winning squad transfer into the 15s game with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens on the horizon.

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His comments came after the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s exit from the second HSBC Wordld Sevens Series event in Dubai with losses to France 17-22 and Spain 14-33.The side finished off their pool campaign with a 40-7 victory against Argentina but this was not enough to ensure the side qualified for the cup quarter-finals.

Veidreyaki said it took former Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber nearly three years to build a winning combination to win the 2018-2019 series after his appointment in 2016. Baber was offered the chance to continue in the role after winning Olympic gold in Tokyo but opted to take up a coaching post with Edinburgh which he has just started after temporarily coaching the Flying Fijian squad in their Autumn series matches.

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Veidreyaki told the Fiji Times: “Why take 11 new players when members of the Tokyo gold medal winning team could have been retained for the two major events next year? It takes time to groom players for an international environment especially when you have seven players in the squad who haven’t even gone abroad. Only a few players from the winning squad in Tokyo got overseas contracts while others have been contracted by the Fijian Drua.

“A winning combination cannot be built overnight and in rugby, the 7s game and 15s game are separate codes which require special coaching techniques especially at the highest level. The Commonwealth Games will be held in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8 while the RWC 7s will be held in September 9-11 in South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Fiji’s double gold medal winning Olympian Seremaia Tuwai has married his long time partner and mother to his children, Mereani Folau, at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva.

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