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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Chris Davies says chance to work with Flying Fijians 'too good to turn down'

Former Abu Dhabi Harlequins coach working as a team analyst as they bid to overcome his native Wales, drawn in the same pool at the Cape Town Sevens this weekend

Team analist Chris Davies says the chance to work with the Fiji sevens team was 'too good to turn down' despite his heavily pregnant wife expecting their child in Hong Kong. 
Victor Besa for The National
Team analist Chris Davies says the chance to work with the Fiji sevens team was 'too good to turn down' despite his heavily pregnant wife expecting their child in Hong Kong. Victor Besa for The National

Even though he has upped sticks to a remote point on the other side of the world, with his first child on the way, Chris Davies knows how lucky he is.

Once the head coach of Abu Dhabi Harlequins, the Welshman is now touring the world as the video analyst for the Fiji sevens team.

It might well be the dream job for any rugby anorak. Poring over video of the Flying Fijians, and trying to turn it into coach-friendly show-reels. It hardly even sounds like work.

A serious job, for sure, but sometimes it must be like watching a Hollywood blockbuster while you are supposed to be doing your maths homework.

“The Fijians are just unreal at doing things,” said Davies, who will be attempting to oversee the downfall of his native Wales during the pool stage of the Cape Town Sevens on Saturday.

“You look at what they do and you can’t work out how they do it. You get excited doing it, but we know there are things to work on and get better at, and it is about identifying those things.

“To have the opportunity as a skills coach to try to find that gold nugget as to what makes them different, and to work in this environment is fantastic.”

Davies left Abu Dhabi four and a half years ago to take up a job coaching in Hong Kong’s domestic league.

A chance meeting with Gareth Baber, the new Fiji coach who had formerly worked in Hong Kong, eventuated in him landing a deal to work with the team for a season that will include the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup Sevens.

After being on familiar territory in Dubai last weekend, the series has moved on to Cape Town for the second leg of the World Sevens Series.

For the second tournament in succession, Davies and Baber will be hoping to overcome their homeland, having been drawn in a pool with Wales.

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The Fijians beat Wales in an ill-tempered and controversial pool match in Dubai. The Welsh eventually finished 13th, while Fiji lost out to England in the bronze-medal match.

“In terms of rugby in Wales, my heart is always there,” Davies said. “My family is all still there. It pretty much sums up the whole journey – you never know where it is going to end up.

“You have your testing times. I wouldn’t say it is chasing the dream, but it is about keeping on pushing yourself.

“I still have a massive affection towards Welsh rugby, and watch a lot of Welsh rugby, but it would still be very good to get a win on the weekend against Wales.

“My heart is certainly with the white team on the weekend rather than the red one.”

At the end of the weekend, Davies will head back with the team to Suva, where he is now based.

That is over 8,000kms, as well as a convoluted flight route, away from Hong Kong, where wife Jodie, in the final throes of pregnancy, is still based.

“I haven’t had time to think about being homesick,” Davies said. “It is probably different for my wife, but she has made it look easy.

“I obviously thought, ‘Is it a bit crazy doing this?’ But the opportunity to work with the [Olympic] gold medalists, and great people, was too good to turn down.”

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