After all the hoopla about the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Fiji has come away with one of the best results in recent championships.
In hindsight, being the ever idealist, I believe Fiji could have gone all the way had there been some provision by the management to improve on some areas.
Even though the post mortem by the FRU has praised the effort of the forwards; I believe Fiji would have controlled the games better especially the last two against Wales and South Africa.
What would have been our percentages in the set pieces had we went all the way in making sure Deacon Manu made it in the final 30 for France?
It seemed like to me that the Welsh and the Boks looked menacing only through their set pieces especially in the scrums when they were 5-20 metres out from the Fijian tryline.
Manu would have certainly minimised that threat and shut out the continual offensives the stronger teams imposed on the Fijian front eight.
I had suggested that Waisea Luveniyali play the pivot’s role against South Africa because not only did he have the weapons to attack against the Boks but he was a brand new player and had he been able to get into his groove play a fresh approach against them.
Incumbent Seremaia Bai had been in the rut too long and went back into that same rut when the pressure was on after Fiji scored the two tries to level scores; started kicking possession away.
Instinctively, I believe Luveiniyali would have scented blood and gone in for the Boks’ jugular and played Fiji’s strength in attacking the Boks defence when they were down psychologically; the whole stadium or the majority backing them in cheering for Fiji wildly.
But alas, Fiji depended on experience and paid for it; falling back on the safety of our kicking then instinctively using our best asset in attacking them when they were down.
Bai instead let the Boks back into the game and allowed them the time and psyche to claw back in and make Fiji pay with their more structured approach.
The amount of balls coming Isoa Neivua’s way would have been utilised by a fit Rupeni Caucau, Samuela Dawai or Napolioni Nalaga who were all in France; had they been called up.
The unity in the team had been laid down and other Fijians would have been only too willing to come in as replacements for Nicky Little etc. had they been called in, but I believe the management stuck with their 30 come small storms, hurricanes or even tragedy (except for Sireli Bobo).
Please I am not in any way trying to undermine the effort put in by the team but am trying to give some input that could be of help in our future endeavours.
But more importantly, Fiji has gained the confidence in the game to play the big teams and that has only come through the hard work and effort by the players and management.
Thank you coach Ilivasi Tabua and the rest of the management; skipper Mosese Rauluni and the players for making us proud as a nation at the biggest world stage for the game.
Fiji Rugby Blog hads always hoped for the Webb-Ellis Cup coming to Fiji but the big win has been more achievable with the results from France.
All the best for 2011; Go and show the Kiwis how to play real Pacific rugby in four years!!!
Caption: Fiji celebrates after the win against Wales