‘Hong Kong is like a home ground in Fiji’

Vatemo Ravouvou is thrilled that Fiji are back in Hong Kong this week, but the new skipper sidestepped commenting on his team’s change of head coach since their last outing on the HSBC SVNS circuit.

The Fijians currently stand third overall in the 12-team 2023/24 series heading into the sixth leg in the Far East, but the quarter-final loss to Spain in Los Angeles at the start of March spelled the end of Ben Gollings’ time in charge.

They hadn’t won a leg on the series in 19 attempts and the Fijian authorities decided to act, bringing in ex-skipper Osea Kolinisau and recalling Gareth Baber, the coach who led them to a silver medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics.

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This was followed by this week’s decision to nominate Ravouvou as their captain and it led to the unusual dynamic of Fiji being at Hong Kong Stadium for training and a pre-tournament photocall while the ousted Gollings was just a little over a kilometre away, taking charge of Nemani Nadolo’s Ashbury Tropics at the Hong Kong 10s.

“We hope to finish the season good,” said Ravouvou to RugbyPass, preferring not to address having Baber back at the helm in place of Gollings. What he was way more willing to embrace was the Fijian history with Hong Kong.

Their record is enviable, five title wins in success before the pandemic scuppered the 2020 edition and seven wins in eight going back to 2012. “It’s a memorable one,” Ravouvou beamed about Hong Kong. “There are good memories here. It’s good to be here, and excited. Winning all those years in a row, the best bit was playing as a team.”

In total, Fiji have been crowned champions on 19 occasions and been finalists 30 times – including the last two years where they were beaten by New Zealand in the decider. Safe to say they love it here.

“Hong Kong is like a home ground in Fiji,” enthused Ravouvou. “Because of the weather, Hong Kong is a Fijian home ground and the fans like our players, our offloads, our game, the style of game we play.”

Fiji open their pool on Friday with a game against Micheal Hooper’s Australia. They also play Canada later that day before completing their three-game group on Saturday versus Antoine Dupont’s France, who won the last leg of the series in the USA.

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Source link: https://www.rugbypass.com/news/vatemo-ravouvou-hong-kong-is-like-a-home-ground-in-fiji-sevens/




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