Bermuda sevens coach — and legend of the sport — Waisale Serevi compared the island to his native Fiji, who won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro last summer.
The Fiji sevens superstar made the comparison before the Ariel Re Sevens, in which Bermuda’s best take on visiting teams at the National Sports Centre’s North Field today and tomorrow.
“When I came here, I told the players that this place is like Fiji,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of money, we are struggling to go to training, we are struggling to go to the gym because we cannot afford it, we are doing other things like running, doing chin-ups climbing trees, climbing the mountains and hills to facilitate all this, and this is what we are doing here.”
Serevi, who played for Fiji’s sevens and XV teams throughout the Nineties and Noughties and is a former Fiji sevens coach, is on island along with Shalom Suniula, a United States XV and sevens international, and Carly MacKinnon, a three-times US national champion and youth coach with Serevi’s Atavus programme.
“We find that players here in Bermuda are naturals,” Suniula said. “It’s about trying to nurture that and keep them heading in the right direction, in terms of where they want to be, and they want to be playing at the highest level.
“So we just want to keep reminding them that: ‘Hey, you’ve got all this natural talent and here are the skills that you need so you can compete at that level if you are really serious’.”
After a sixth-place finish at the Rugby Americas North Men’s Sevens Championship in Trinidad and Tobago four months ago, Serevi is working towards improvement and qualifying for the World Rugby Sevens Qualifier at the Hong Kong Sevens.
“I’ve been with the boys for the past four or five years and it’s good to see the growth and the improvement of the boys,” Serevi said.
“The last time we were with them was for the qualifiers in Trinidad, where we had the chance to play in a tournament.
“What we are looking for this weekend from them is to try and improve from where they left off, especially defensively. After Trinidad we talked about what they need to do. They have the skills, they are strong, they are fast, but the other part of rugby is the fitness, which in sevens is a very crucial part.
“Last year, the Trinidad and Tobago tournament was the Caribbean qualifiers, to go to the Dubai and Hong Kong Sevens. Our goal this year is to try and get them to qualify for Dubai at the end of the year and Hong Kong next year.
“2018 is a very important year for sevens rugby all over the world; it’s a World Cup year and it’s in San Francisco, so I think, from our point of view, we brought Shalom over this weekend and we may have the opportunity to take him over for the next qualifiers.
Last year we lost to Trinidad, and we were unlucky, but I thought it was a blessing in disguise. We don’t want to go and just make up the numbers in Dubai and Hong Kong. So it was a learning experience. We need to come back and be fitter and stronger to make an impact and not just make up the numbers.”