Fuli’s brigade learns a lot from loss
5 December, 2021, 1:30 pm
With the Olympic gold and bronze medallists, Fiji and Argentina, and two highly-respected European core teams France and Spain involved, Pool C always promised to be hugely competitive, and so it proved.
No one could have predicted though that double Olympic champions Fiji would lose their first two games and miss out on the Cup quarter-finals, even if 10 of their 13-man squad had never played on the World Series before the Dubai fortnight.
Having lost to France for only the second time in World Series history, the Pacific Islanders were then on the wrong side of another upset as Spain scored an historic victory.
Los Leones had never beaten Fiji at this level before but were worthy 33-19 winners thanks to braces from Manu Moreno and the rangy Tobias Sainz-Trapaga. Sainz-Trapaga doubled up against France but Les Bleus Sevens turned in an impressive display of fast and dynamic rugby to win 33-14.
Jordan Sepho and Nelson Epee were unstoppable on the edge and on the evidence of this display, an exciting new era beckons for French rugby in not only 15s but also sevens.
It was also a special day for one of their more senior players as Jonathan Laugel, 28, became France’s most-capped sevens player by appearing in his 71st tournament.
By beating Spain, France became the first team to book their place in the quarter-finals but Argentina were already assured of top spot by then, on the head-to-head ruling.
Los Pumas Sevens kicked off the day with a 21-14 win over Spain before seeing off France by an identical scoreline.
Typical of a proud rugby nation, a youthful Fiji managed to galvanise themselves and show their true colours against Argentina — even though they were playing in a changed strip of blue and black – to finish the day on a high.
Kaminieli Rasaku set up two and scored another in a sizzling first-half performance that brought them 26 unanswered points.
Waisea Nacuqu completed his hat-trick after the break in a 40-7 victory that meant Fiji avoided the ignominy of losing all three pool matches in a World Series event for the first time.