Hastings: Ryan 'oil in the machine' for Fiji

(IRB.COM) Monday 2 December 2013
 Hastings: Ryan 'oil in the machine' for Fiji
Fiji celebrate winning the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens for the first time since 1998

Former Scotland and British & Irish Lions centre Scott Hastings (@ScottHastings13) is now an established broadcaster and was part of the commentary team at the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens. Here, in the build-up to round three of the Series in South Africa, he reflects for irbsevens.com on a memorable weekend in Dubai.

When Fiji play like they did in Dubai at the weekend they look simply unstoppable and it will be really interesting to see if they can carry that form and confidence onto South Africa this weekend.

Their skill levels are right out of the top drawer and, with Ben Ryan there, he gave them a little bit of structure but allowed them to play within the framework that Fijian rugby is so famed for, and they seem to feed off each other.

Once they're on that roll, and playing with that confidence, the ball starts to run and passes stick. It's a special moment for those guys to win a first Dubai title since the World Series began and when it happens like that you can take an awful lot of confidence out of it too.

To score 73 points in two massive knock-out games against world class opposition in New Zealand and South Africa is scary. They look a lot fitter since Ben Ryan took over, he's put oil in the machine and I believe it helped them to produce a performance laced with skill and passion.

As a new coach and a man who is relatively new to Fiji, Ben Ryan will now have to manage expectation, as Gordon Tietjens has to do on a constant basis in New Zealand. It simply isn't possible to win every time, there's serious competition out there, especially when you face fired-up home teams - South Africa will get a response this weekend and their supporters will have a major role to play in Port Elizabeth.

Dubai is just a special place to play. I won there in 1988 when we used to play on sand pitches. Even then you thought that there was something special about coming to the Middle East. Once upon a time I said that it might take over from Hong kong and it's gone pretty close now. Hong Kong is still the mecca but Dubai, with all the space and all those pitches, has the opportunity to grow and grow and anyone who's never been should really go and visit.

It is also great news for everyone that the IRB had visitors from Rio 2016 there at the weekend. They saw a wonderful women's competition too, finishing with that amazing finale and Australia's comeback, and I'll be amazed if they don't go back and talk to the people of Brazil about this amazing game of Rugby Sevens that they'll be hosting at the Olympics in 2016.

These players now play in cauldron-like arenas, they travel the world, they're wonderful exponents and ambassadors for the game. Their fitness levels are super-human, their skill levels are outstanding. I admire everything about the sport, the players, the supporters. The relationship they have with the players in Sevens makes for fantastic entertainment.

Good luck to all the players in Port Elizabeth this weekend - may the best team win!

Highlights from Dubai will be available in the latest episode of 'IRB Sevens World' on broadcasters around the world from 3 December.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens

Round 3
13-14 December 2014
Venue: Port Elizabeth Bay Stadium
City: Port Elizabeth
Capacity: 48,459

  • Emirates RWC Worldwide Partner
  • Cecil Afrika, South Africa
  • Frankie Horne