The year in Oceania Rugby
As a mighty year of rugby in Oceania comes to a close we have a look back on the highs and have a look at goodies from the rugby Santa.
All I want for Christmas is? Answering this in our region you get responses like, family, smiles, seafood, swims & afternoon sleeps, no cyclones, more food, cool evenings for sleeping & general peaceful times.
If Santa was real, he surely would like rugby and with this ideal in mind the brain goes wild with what goodie bags he delivered this festive season. Thinking hard of the desired stuff kids like to unwrap we have balls, boots and jerseys. Thinking deeper it would be great if the rugby specific Santa could also dish out things like genuine pace, being able to side step the width of a bus, hands that could make every pass stick, absolute nerve when you are under the high-ball, absolute patience when you are near the try zone & the talent to pass and miss 3 people in a row to get it to the winger faster.
These non-material gifts are the ones that have been naturally dished out in abundance in Oceania. With or without a ball a game will get going, an old bottle, a coconut or a screwed up t-shirt will do the job and it is game on. Every random game around the Islands will see some scarily fast players that international teams would embrace, these runners are usually smiling as they are going and it seems this smile just makes them go faster. Of course after these games they will swim in a river or the sea wherever they are, then they will stroll back for more food and that lovely heat required tropical sleep.
As we look more at this Christmas zone it so many different wants from everyone involved. For instance, most of us want to eat loads, laze on a couch and watch some sport on TV, eat some more and if we are feeling energetic we will read a paper, if we are super motivated we walk to the kitchen and boil the jug and grab some more junk food while we are there. Now if you are one of the elite 7s men in Oceania it will be a different story. Your Christmas list will have been written out all right, but it will have very different feel than the normal lazy lot that make up us TV viewers. For starters on the 24th December, you would not be already eating loads and hooking into the festive season. Straight out of Gorden Titchens Christmas cookbook to fitness you would be doing 16 sets of 150-meter sprints, and this is only the entrée of what else is to come.
Christmas day did turn out to be a lucky day as it had no fitness on your list of must do’s, but with the world cup of 7s two months away, I am sure the players that think they are in with a shot of winning did hit the streets for a light bonus jog anyway. Burning in their minds more than trifle, pavlova and palusami will be fitness and the fact that in the business end of the 7s finals it will me millimeters that separate the cheers from the tears of loosing. This drive, sacrifice and strength is another attribute the coaches of Oceania will be wishing that the Rugby Santa has hand delivered in mass over the region.
Straight out of the handbook of how to be fit and win the 7s Rugby World Cup comes this lot of recipes if you are keen to taste what it takes. As with any good diet variety is the key and take your pick from any of these healthy treats. A dose of 40m Sprints x 40 (Walk back recovery)- then go again. 2mins easy jog; 3 mins fast jog x3, Gym work, 15 x 100m Sprints, 1km fast run, Test pulse, Rest 3 mins & repeat 2 more times as extra fitness.
Now we know what it takes to get to the winners circle, we can have a wee look back on the highs of the region for 08. Tonga’s team the Tautahi Gold took out the Pacific Rugby Cup, they lost the week earlier to Upolu Samoa but turned it around in a powerful display in the final to take the trophy to the Kingdom of Tonga. The next title was the Pacific Nations Cup, it was a fight to the end and in the 78th minute the New Zealand Maori scored to topple Australia A. Next up was the Oceania 7s titles, Samoa ruled supreme by at least 50 points per game in the men’s division. The woman rolled out a lot of skill, passion and guts to transform the game in the host country Samoa. The Wollaroos the Australian woman beat NZ for the first ever time, this amazement and joy was repeated in the final, and what a final it was. In the last minute a miss 2 pass was drilled to perfection and one flying las scored under the sticks to see the Australian ladies be Oceania’s best.
Adding in a flavour of France, New Caledonia hosted the final of the Oceania Cup. Vanuatu and hosts New Caledonia played a running game and in the end the size and power of the New Caledonian pack saw them just squeeze past Vanuatu and grab the trophy.
Ending the prized trophies of our region was the Oceania under 19 title, this was played in Fiji and the up and coming talent was just blazing in the warm dry running conditions. The silverware ended up with Tonga in another nail biting final and one thing is for sure is that the next generation has no shortage of courage and talent and the coming years will see some of these young men play in their national teams.
As we salute the year that was, we eye the year that is near. 09 is jam-packed with rugby, so enjoy your Christmas goodies, enjoy your food, enjoy your family and relax. As we are all doing this cast a thought and even a call to our refs, our coaches, our parents, our cooks, our managers, our teachers and all those good people that do the unseen work that allows us just to play our game rugby.