Fiji, the double Olympic Games sevens gold medallists, are in danger of missing out on automatic qualification for the Games in France in 2024 unless they regain their form starting in Sydney tomorrow.
Having won the gold in Rio and Japan, head coach Ben Golling has a tough act to follow and a disappointing finish in Hamilton last weekend where they lost in the quarter-final to Argentina, has dropped the Islands nation down to eighth place in the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series table. Only the top four teams from the 2023 HSBC competition will gain automatic qualification for the Paris Games.
Fiji is pooled with France, Fiji, Tonga and Japan for the Sydney 7s and Gollings told the Fiji Times: “There are lots of teams who are top rated that are under the pump. You saw Samoa last week had a similar situation. They won the tournament previously (in Cape Town) but then they dropped out into the bowl stages.
“So it kind of shows that competitiveness and that is where consistency is the key for us. The points are key for us and there are not a lot of points dividing a number of the teams so we have got to maximize points that we can get which is a big focus for us.
“That is why a top two finish this week is really important for us in terms of maximizing those points and then we take that on to the next few tournaments.”
The 2024 Paris Olympics will be held from July 26 to August 11 and six more tournaments remain on the HSBC series after the Sydney 7s. “It is one of those funny things that we are in an easier pool this time,” added Gollings whose team won the World Cup Sevens in South Africa last year.
“Last week we had three really tough games and this week you could argue that there are two medium games. We can’t afford to go out and rest on the fact that we are good on paper and we should beat these teams. We have to go out there and put our performances in and build through this tournament as we look towards pushing into the top four at the end of it.”