Poor elementary technique costs Malta the final

Malta Ladies International Sevens Tournament

Staff Reporter
22 February 2014, 12:00am
Sweden were just too strong for Denmark. Photography by Ray Attard
Sweden were just too strong for Denmark. Photography by Ray Attard

Mike Turner

A most enjoyable day in the sun at Marsa with teams from five countries involved, a real "Rugby Festa". Two teams were national training squads, Switzerland and Malta and two teams were clubs, PKSpeed from Denmark and Team Rio from Norway.

Entertaining rugby, with plenty of fine running, although Malta seem to have lost the technique required for Sevens in that they failed to make the best of their runners and preferred to charge and drive.

In the first match Denmark beat Norway 35 to 14, largely because the brave Norwegians lacked pace. This was followed by a draw of 12 to 12 between Malta and Switzerland, with a little luck helping Switzerland as the referee missed a blatant offside in the build up to their first try. Next the Swiss demolished Norway 52 to 0 with their far superior athleticism. After this Malta won 19 to 12 against Denmark but played really badly, lobbed passes, bad positioning, even, amazingly, a lazy look about them in the first half.

Coach Llongo must have given them a real pep talk because they thrashed Norway by 52 to 0, but ominously Switzerland purred all over Denmark in top gear to run up 50 to 0. The Swiss have a total understanding of Sevens rugby's requirements, fast ball, crisp, flat passing , constant support and offload and use of the width of the field, keeping the fast players clear. On the contrary, Malta have fallen back, their passes are lobs, they are happier having a driving maul or bashing through an opponent and no-one is looking for the spaces and gaps.

In the semi-finals Swiss beat Denmark and Malta beat Norway, then Denmark won the Plate for third and fourth places.

In the meantime Malta All Stars, a junior national squad, played two matches against the USA team, Sigonella from Sicily and each team won a match, again played with great enthusiasm and promise for the future.

The final between Switzerland and Malta followed living up to the promise a close and interesting game, but it was decided by superior Sevens from Switzerland despite misguided courage and passion from Malta. It is so frustrating to watch this promising Maltese team making elementary errors which should have been coached out of them years ago. The worst sin is the passing, which is slow and lobbed - every lob gives the opponents more time to position themselves. However, playing fifteen a side tactics, charge and drive, Malta opened the scoring with a try by Caruana..

However the Swiss responded immediately after Sultana gave away possession with a dreadful pass.

Switzerland scored again, intercepting another lob, and then some really poor tackling by Malta let them in for another try. Malta never lacked passion but never had the same cool teamwork of the Swiss. Sultana made many penetrating runs but always ended up on her own. The Swiss number 7 scored two fine tries, but the Maltese girls did not attack her runs, waiting flat footed to tackle so her swerve just went right past them. Even though they covered so well to stop attacks there was always another Swiss player to take the offload. As the game came to the end Malta finally started to use the width of the pitch and inevitably scored a good try, converted by Cassar.

All the players in the tournament deserve praise but special mentions are Norway - Olaffsdottir, Denmark -Jokobbsen and Andersen, Switzerland - Casparis, Stamm and Theole, Malta - Cassar, Attard, Sultana and Spiteri.

Lots of basic work for the Maltese ladies club coaches - back to basics, then adjust to Sevens, so win back the previous ranking.

Malta International Women's Sevens Tournament
Norway Rio 14 Denmark Speed 35
Swiss Barbarians 12 Malta Select 12
Norway Rio 0 Swiss Barbarians 42
Denmark Speed 12  Malta Select 19
Norway Rio 0 Malta Select 32
Denmark Speed 0 Swiss Barbarians 50

Swiss Barbarians 43 Denmark Speed 0
Malta Select 31 Norway Rio 5

Third/Fourth Place

Denmark Speed 24 Norway Rio 7

Swiss Barbarians 22 Malta Select 12

Men's Mediterranean Bank Cup
Saracens 15 Kavallieri B 0
Gladiators 15 Gozo Bulls 0
Stompers B 19 Swieqi Overseas B 19
Falcons 15 Marauders 0