As the 2020 Olympics draws to a close, one of my lasting memories is of the Fijian Sevens team defying their relatively small geographical size yet again to win their second Olympic Gold in succession, singing their traditional song of “E Da Sa Qaqa” as they celebrated their victory. Their story grows even more incredible with the revelation they have been isolating as a group for four months prior to the Olympics.
The story of Fiji’s inaugural Olympic triumph in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 is captured magnificently in Sevens Heaven by their coach at the time, Ben Ryan. I like many watched the Fijians win Golf after completing a comprehensive 43-7 victory over Great Britain in the Final but it wasn’t until I heard Ryan talking about his book on the House of Rugby podcast in 2019 that I was really captured and understood the significance of this story.
The book details the team’s rise following Ryan’s appointment in 2013, capturing numerous World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments along the way despite little financial support and resource, telling the stories and backgrounds of players such as captain Osea Kolinisau or Semi Kunatani and Josua Tuisova before their famous victory.