Fiji have announced they are coming for the
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens with one mission in mind –
capturing a record fourth straight title at the showcase event of
the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
With other teams keeping a watching eye on
the Commonwealth Games immediately after Hong Kong, Fiji coach
Gareth Baber says that Hong Kong is too important to ignore.
“If you win Hong Kong, you’re a
national hero,” said Baber of the reaction in the Islands when
their team wins the Sevens.
The Fijians have made the
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens their personal domain down
through the years, winning the event a record 17 times and turning
the Hong Kong Stadium into a home away from home.
coming off three successive wins, 2018 presents an opportunity to
set another indelible milestone in the history of the Hong Kong
Sevens as they bid to become the first nation to win four
successive cups here.
The signature Hong Kong event comes
right before Fiji’s attention will quickly have to turn to the
Commonwealth Games - to be staged on Australia’s Gold Coast from
13-15 April, and Baber said his plans had all along been to
target victory at both events, rather than focus on one.
“There’s a big passion here for taking on the massive challenge
that Hong Kong presents, and it will be the same with the
Commonwealth Games,” said Baber.
“Both are attainable for
us,” Baber added, noting that his side’s wins this season, in New
Zealand and Vancouver, have both come on the second legs of
Fiji will return for this year’s
edition - to be staged across the weekend of 6 to 8 April,
sitting in second position in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series
standings on 101 points.
That leaves them hot on the heels
of series leaders South Africa (109 points). South Africa are the
defending gold medalists at the Commonwealth Games and have
already announced the sending of their Academy squad to Hong Kong
to allow for their Series side to rest-up for the medal defence in
While the field looks more open than usual, the
Fijians have been handed a dangerous draw in Pool A in Hong Kong,
pitting them against fierce rivals New Zealand in the early
stages, along with Russia and Samoa, but Baber said his squad knew
what lay ahead at a tournament that the players, and the nation,
value more than any other.
Last year saw Baber lead the
Fijians to victory at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens for
the very first time – having previously spent three years coaching
The Welshman said nothing could have properly
prepared him for the feeling of watching his team rise to the
occasion in their barnstorming 22-0 victory over South Africa.
“You go into the training rooms and it’s dark, and there’s no
one else around, and then you go out into the Stadium and there
are more photos being taken than you’ve ever seen,” said Baber.
“It was the best rugby we played all season,” Baber
reminisced. “But that’s what Fijians do – they rise to the
Baber and Fijians around the world
will be hoping that they do so again in Hong Kong, and a week
later, as they look to add a first ever Commonwealth Games sevens
gold to their Rio 2016 title.
Baber has announced a
preliminary squad of 16 players for the tour to Hong Kong,
including the 13 players named to the squad for the Commonwealth
“It is important to take the 16 to Hong Kong so that we
can prepare them for both tournaments. I have every intention of
selecting the best team for the Hong Kong 7s and ensuring that we
defend our title successfully.
“Our first task is to tackle the
Hong Kong Sevens first before we travel to the Commonwealth Games
to battle it out for the gold medal,” Baber told the Fiji Sun.
Fiji Extended Sevens
Semi Kunatani, Jasa Veremalua,
Josua Vakurinabili, Paula Dranisinukula, Kalione Nasoko, Jerry
Tuwai (captain), Vatemo Ravouvou, Amenoni Nasilasila, Sevuloni
Mocenacagai, Mesulame Kunavula, Eroni Sau, Alasio Naduva, Samisoni
Virivir, Isake Katonibau, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Waisea Nacuqu.
Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013,
of Chartis Cup 2012 and
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.