Sevens: French red-tape leads to a sevens conversion for Q
ONLY a quirk of French immigration fate propelled Akapusi Qera back into sevens action.
But the last fortnight has helped turn the Fijian flanker's perception of short-format rugby upside down.
Bags packed and mind set for Gloucester's punishing pre-season Tignes tour, Qera received a phone call that initially cut deep.
Gloucester's rugby operations manager Alex Brown broke the bad news.
The Suva-born back-rower's visa application was rejected by French authorities at the last minute.
So rather than head to altitude training in the Alps and on to Gloucester's pre-season clash at Toulon, Qera had to stay in England.
The former Birmingham and Solihull marauder admitted he was not looking forward to sevens, a game he 'hated' as a youngster.
Then he threw himself into battle – and everything changed.
Now he will lead Gloucester's muscular challenge in the weekend-long World Club Sevens, and is hunting another trophy to add to the JP Morgan Sevens title.
"This was the game that I hated most in my life because of all the running!" chuckled the laid-back 29-year-old.
"But I've really enjoyed it in the last two weeks, especially playing in front of the home crowd at Kingsholm.
"To win the JP Morgan topped all of that off.
"But to go into a world sevens tournament is a new challenge, and an exciting one too.
"It's non-stop sprinting for seven minutes, a minute off, and then the same again.
"So it's pretty intense, and I never really used to enjoy that.
"The visa just fell through with immigration – maybe they just didn't like my passport!
"But perhaps everything falls into place now.
"To be here and to represent Gloucester in first the JP Morgan and now the world sevens, that's huge.
"I missed the boys while they were out in Tignes and then Toulon, but we managed to represent Gloucester with pride at Bath, and to get our first silverware this year, that was a massive bonus.
"Everything was already packed and I just got a phone call from Browny to say that my visa didn't go through.
"I was upset at first, but on the bright side of it I've been able to have the honour of representing the club in the sevens.
"And now I am humbled to do the same again in the world sevens."
Gloucester will take on Moscow (11.52am), New York (2.22pm) and Western Province (5.11pm) in today's opening-day World Club Sevens action.
All the knockout matches will be held tomorrow, and Qera believes the Cherry and Whites should target nothing less than overall glory.
He continued: "There's a real buzz at the club right now.
"This could be a big achievement for us, if we can go there and win.
"It helps me work on my fitness and my agility for the season ahead.
"But this is massive for the club, to compete against some of the big names in world rugby, and at Twickenham too.
"All we can do is focus on Moscow as they are our first game.
"But we were talking in the changing rooms yesterday that the Yankees are already talking themselves up to cause some upsets.
"We've told ourselves not to worry too much about that, and just concentrate on ourselves.
"We've got to put in a performance that can help us nail the tournament.
"People might be expecting the Gloucester-Western Province match to decide the group, but there's nothing to guarantee that at all.
"Moscow and New York will be seriously physical and up for it, it's a worldwide tournament so the standard is going to be high.
"Other teams have had far more time to prepare for this, but we're not worried by that.
"We are in good form and feeling good too.
"We're in this tournament to win it, we're aiming for nothing less.
"Hopefully we can come out with some more silverware."