ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 16, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 42

HONG KONG the task at hand

The “Sevens”, I said last week, proved to be a show for Kandy Sports Club. CR and FC who beat Kandy in the pool stage could not maintain the momentum at the next round. Havelocks who did well on day one fell through on day two. Two teams that impressed after being at the bottom in previous years were Police and Air force .One thing that stuck me was that most teams failed in their ability to recycle after the contact as well after attack. They were unable to recover and get back or support the man with the ball when most needed. The major difference in this game is not that each side has seven players.

Sevens possibly is not the slower front five forwards but should be the love of anyone who has played in the back row or the backs. It is a more free-flowing, fluid style of rugby where you will see a lot of one-on-one situations with players attacking space. It is more exciting than a 15-man game. There is also a lot less kicking and if there are any weaknesses in your all-round game, it is exposed a lot more in sevens than in fifteens because of the extra space.

Fitness is an important aspect in the skills needed for this short version. Fitness largely depends on the ability to recycle bouts of intense effort and work interspersed with periods of low intensity. This is more important when you are up playing the sevens. Skill, technique and thinking are vital components in the player for a game of this nature. The fitness aspect plays an important role. The importance cannot be underestimated as it is what is required in the attempt to reach the next level in Asia. Sevens is perfectly suited to any rugby player who has got good hands, quick feet and great defensive skills.

So it is a different ball game altogether. Getting fit means taking into consideration the element of contact and the ability to recover and or recycle thereafter. It must be understood that training for this is no easy task. Rugby as expected by the laws is a game is best played when players are on their feet. The emphasis on the requirement to stay on their feet has a crucial impact on the sevens game. Lacking in the ability to stay on their feet and the tendency for many players to be involved at the breakdown point is one of the weaknesses I saw during the sevens in Colombo and Kandy. It also seemed that there was a tendency to play close and kick in the hope of gaining territory. That proved to be the undoing of some or most of the teams.

It was said by some that their teams did not participate at the higher level as this was in the midst of training for the upcoming fifteen a side season. The boys it was told were in the midst of working out their weight training schedule and were not training for sevens. I agree if this could be applied across the board. The question that tickles my mind: “then what about Kandy?” They too should be in the midst of a similar training programme. Also if that is what it is, we have to kiss away our chances of improved performance at the Hong Kong Sevens as it too is played during this time of the year .

This also leads toward other countries in the world who are among the best in the fifteen a side and the sevens. They are in the midst of a six Nation super fourteen and what not. Yet they come to Hong Kong as well. While being in the midst of other commitments they perform well to continue to be at the top. It is the planning and identification of the player for the sevens and specialization in this area which makes the difference. Keep giving excuses and you will continue to stay where you are despite running faster to be at the same spot.

The requirement at this point is to understand National requirement and work according to the plan. Clubs too then will have their agenda fitted into to achieve what has to be achieved and then move forward while they do better than what they are doing. It would then give the ultimate customer, the spectator a better game to watch than having to do with the make believe tackle you often see and the excuses that are dished as they sip and discuss the happenings while been in the best of spirits. At the same time it is good to see one important thing that was surfacing “the absence of selectors “been resolved with the Minister making the appointments. Hopefully! Things will turnout to be better as we proceed to the season 2008. On the cards in the coming weeks will be the schools section that will be opening their season starting with the sevens.

* Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

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