We’ve embarked on our fourth tour of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 with the same joy and hope as always … maybe a little bit more in fact.
The same number of points are available and the same teams will be in action, but there are no doubts that Hong Kong is the biggest stage of the season because of what it means not only to the teams and players but also to the fans as well. We certainly enjoy it the most!
Getting to Hong Kong is never easy, the distances are huge and you have to deal with jet-lag which is a big issue. Once the plane lands, though, it all makes sense and tiredness is less problematic.
On Friday we trained in Buenos Aires, then travelled to Sao Paulo and on to Doha and from there to Hong Kong. I’ve said in a previous column that we are the team that travels the most because we don’t have any tournaments in our region, but that’s how it is and we don’t complain. I only say it is tough.
Our team has been growing this season as we are achieving most of the goals we have set. Fortunately, we are having some good tournaments along the way.
Our experienced players have been working and leading very well, something which as a coach is a pleasure to watch – the positive passing of knowledge makes us proud.
Fond memories of Hong Kong
Reaching the finals in Hong Kong is special for what it means and what happens off the pitch. Our goal continues to be to play in Cup quarter-finals.
I remember playing in the final here in 2004 in what was a great year for Los Pumas Sevens with my brother Pablo, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Andrés Romagnoli and Horacio Agulla among other very talented players and future Pumas.
We had won in Los Angeles and went on to play the final in Hong Kong and Singapore where we duly lost against England and South Africa. Singing the national anthem at the Hong Kong Stadium is still one of my lasting memories in the game.
I am not too sure if we’ll repeat that feat this year because the team to beat is South Africa. South Africa and England are among the teams that have stuck to their squad of the last few years, bringing in a few new players. In sevens, continuity and experience are the key.
Both teams were strong last year and they are even more solid this season. However, there is no impossible in sevens and to beat the Blitzboks you must play the perfect game.
Today we are aiming to mature and reach a quarter-final. Four times we have played there this season and failed to seize the moment.
That is what we are after at the greatest tournament of them all.