Fiji clinched the HSBC Hong Kong Rugby Sevens for the third consecutive time on Sunday evening.
The Pacific Islanders humbled current World Series leaders South Africa 22-0 in front of a near full-capacity Hong Kong stadium.
Earlier performances added to the already existing doubts about Gareth Baber’ Fiji, who had yet to win a cup this series. They unconvincingly defeated Japan and edged past New Zealand before drawing against Wales in the group stages. “We were under a bit of pressure but we progressively matured as the tournament went on,” said Baber.
The trademark Fijian twinkle-toes didn’t really get going until the final day of the tournament. But when they did, boy did they go. Wins at the expense of Canada and Australia propelled them right into contention – their only obstacle was the ever-dominant Boks.
The players entered the pitch under the tunnel of mini fireworks, and then gathered for an emotional national anthem recital. Baber took his place pitch-side and Fiji inevitably became the home favourites. Everything just seemed to click.
Baber’s men lifted the cup in underneath spectacular fireworks, and the former Hong Kong coach couldn’t hide his delight. “I loved it [Hong Kong] here…I developed my coaching here and to come back to put it all for [us] to see is special,” he said.
It’s safe to say Baber has shrugged off any doubters for now. “I’m stoked for Gareth,” said captain Osea Kolinisau. “I know he’s had a lot of pressure…I’m happy that he got his first win, and that it was here in Hong Kong.”