Sevens is a lovely game
When we watch the 15’s internationals it is all about bigger and more physical, “winning the collisions”. It looks like this is the mantra for all countries. When you do not have a big centre: get a Pacific Islander naturalised. We all seem to work in our academies to build these type of players. This also means that there is little between the style of play and the teams. Look for example at France v. Fiji in the 2018 Autumn International, when they are fit Fiji can compete with the French. Going through the phases trying to outmuscle the opponent makes our rugby union look like League used to be.
Gone are the contrasting styles and the different approaches that countries had.
This is why it is more fun to watch Sevens rugby, where impact in the contact is still important but styles are still different. Even more so for the Women’s Sevens.
It is interesting to follow the development of the teams throughout the season and what players they bring to the tournaments. We had the great opportunity to watch the New Zealand Sevens in the Netherlands and later in Wellington and Sydney when they prepared for the Rio Olympics. Gordon Tietjens in action! And how interesting to follow the development of the team by the new coach Laidlaw?
Gordon Tietjens mastermind
From a coaching perspective you can recognise what Gorden Tietjes has brought to Sevens in general and to the New Zealand team. All his work in training is about being fit and physical, his positional play in defence on drifting and getting in a 3 v 3 position.
It was sad to see how the NZRFU let him down and prioritised the XV’s program over the Rio olympics. Great to follow him working with Samoa.
Ben Ryan Sevens Heaven
Ben Ryan was in rugby heaven but remember that it started as hell. He had no pay and the whole set-up was in a mess. How to turn that around? He reconnected the team with the reason they play rugby: re-invented that Fiji style. He sums it all up in the Youtube interview:
Weird/lucky but I met Ben Ryan briefly when he was still coaching England and he loved that although my National Under 18 program was on a zero budget we were spending Xmas as a trainingsweek, training and sleeping on air mattresses in the changing rooms of the friendly rugby club Castricum! “Jealous, you now why you do this and love rugby”.
Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream