Sevens- A chance for the glory of Gold
Sevens rugby men from the Pacific are in the Cook Islands battling it out in the Pacific Mini Games (PMG), they are all aiming at Sevens Gold here, they are also dreaming further to Olympic chances in this game.
Rugby especially the Sevens code is where small little dots on the map, like Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have made a massive impact on the world stage with their talent. Through their rugby feats, toppling huge nations and dazzling fans with frantic pace and raw talent, these wee nations are heavyweights in world Sevens.
Their wider Island cousins like Nuie, Papua New Guinea, Wallis and Futuna, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Cook Islands and Tahiti are all competing in these games to start making their leap into the big time. For this last group of Islands the PMG is their Olympics, for the favourites Samoa and Fiji they will expect to do well here, they will also be eying anyone in their way for Olympic glory should they get the chance. Next Friday we will find out if their dream has a chance to become reality with the Olympic Committee vote on Sevens as an official Olympic sport.
On day one of the Mini Pacific Games, Fiji cruised through Pool A and into the Medal Finals with a almost faultless display of scintillating, audacious Sevens rugby. They dispatched each opponent with ease, and in a manner as if they were going for a light team run. Osea Kolinisau was the star of play on day one. He carved up would be tacklers and opposition players that came before him were no match for speed and evasive skill. If ever the developing rugby nations participating required a gauge of where they are in reference to Fiji, they certainly found out today. Fiji are undoubtable favourites for the PMG 7s Gold Medal after this striking start.
Samoa finished the top of Pool B , but were challenged at times despite the final result by the likes of Solomon Islands and PNG, relative minnows of world rugby. However, in the end Samoa’s ferocious defence and well structured play was a bar set too high for their Pool B opposition. They will meet Niue in one of the Medal Semi – finals and will be spurred on by their thoughts of their countrymen back home on the Island of Upolu who were ravaged by this week’s Tsunami.
Niue and Tonga performed well, dropping only one match each to the likes of Fiji and Samoa respectively . These two teams are brimming with young, talented players who will take a lot from this tournament in anticipation of their participation in the Oceania Commonwealth games and IRB Sevens series qualifiers in Tahiti in November. Tonga take on Fiji in the 2nd Medal Semi – Final and will be psyched up to take it the Fijians.
Of the other teams, Solomon Islands and PNG gave a strong showing and sent a message to the other Oceania teams that they will be something to reckon with in future 15’s and 7s Tournaments. The Serevi coached Puk Puks finished 3rd in Pool B, and the Solomon Islands finished 4th in Pool B.
The Host Union, the Cook Islands were in a tough pool and need to beat Niue to have any real hope of qualifying for the Medal Semi-Finals. Missed opportunities and some poor decision making saw them fall to the talented Niue team, and they were no match for the Fiji team later in the day. Tahiti played a strong, physical game of 7s but lacked the finesse and skill of the other higher qualifying teams, however there were signs that this predominately soccer nation are developing into a competitive Union within the region.
Wallace and Fortuna, and New Caledonia finished at the bottom of their respective pools, but are looking forward to 9th and 10 play-off tomorrow to achieve the bragging rights between the two Unions. Wallace and Fortuna, a recently admitted Associate Member Union of FORU gave a good account of themselves at the PMG Sevens and we look forward to following their development and progress within the Oceania region.
PMG 7s Finals matches are:
9th & 10th Play off: Wallace & Fortuna v New Caledonia
Plate Semi Final 1 Cook Islands v Solomon Islands
Plate Semi Final 2 Tahiti v Papua New Guinea
Medal Semi Final 1 Samoa v Niue
Medal Semi Final 2 Fiji v Tonga
7th & 8th Playoff
5th & 6th Playoff
Bronze Medal Game
Gold/Silver Medal Game