Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams reflects on winning the Challenge Trophy in Vancouver.
Desperately unlucky not to go through to the Cup stage of the competition (following Argentina's miraculous late kick to beat Fiji), Wales nevertheless recovered from an opening loss to the Fijians to beat all comers on their way to the Challenge Trophy Final, where they overcame Samoa 19-12.
Opponents on Wales' route to the final included Japan (33-0), Argentina (21-14), Samoa (21-14) and Chile (14-5), with Williams expressing his pleasure at finishing the tournament with five wins from six. "It was tough for us to miss out on Cup qualification on points difference after two excellent wins in the group stages, but the manner of our victories was satisfying."
Despite claiming their first piece of silverware of the season, Williams recognises the value of keeping his young team grounded. "At this stage of our development, results are not the be all and end all for us, and we are focused heavily on our processes," he explains. "They were quite evidently in a good place in Vancouver and this puts us in a position to grow even further."
Missing out on Cup qualification in Canada may have been desperately unlucky for Wales, but Williams is philosophical about the matter: "We conceded a couple of soft tries during the group stage and this came back to sting us on the points difference front. As gut-wrenching a feeling as it was at the time, such lessons are invaluable as part of our long-term targets for 2018."
Next up for Wales on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is perhaps the most iconic sevens tournament of all: Hong Kong (7th-9th April). Wales will feature in a formidable Pool C with New Zealand, Fiji and Japan.