Hong Kong Sevens

How ‘King of Sevens’ Waisale Serevi helped the Seattle Seahawks win a Super Bowl

A new book tracking the life of the little master tells how his tackling expertise carried over to the American game

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2018, 7:02am

He wasn’t a renowned tackler during his illustrious rugby sevens career but Fijian great Waisale Serevi can take some credit for the Seattle Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl victory.

After moving to the United States at the end of his playing and coaching career and setting up a rugby coaching business, Serevi found himself front and centre as the Seahawks went about building the NFL’s tightest defence.

A new book tracking the life of the little master – Waisale Serevi, The King of Sevens – tells of how Seahawks’ defensive coordinator Rocky Seto reached out to Serevi to help improve the team’s tackling technique.

“In 2010, Pete Carroll’s Seahawks had drafted a pair of hard-hitting defensive backs to play the free and strong safety positions,” the book says. “In 2011, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were added to join Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to form an intensely physical defensive backfield.

“Carroll had a vision for his defence but knew that the current climate of protecting player safety in the NFL meant that tackling aggressively risked giving away penalties.

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“He wanted his players to tackle more like the rugby players he had known at USC, who used their shoulders to dish out powerful tackles but avoided the head-to-head contact that threatened concussion and drew penalties from NFL referees. Serevi Rugby was the answer to his prayers.”

Despite doing his best work with ball in hand, Serevi had seen enough in a lifetime of rugby to make a difference.

“The Seahawks were soon closing in on their prey with their eyes up, tracking their opponent’s centre mass, planting their feet as near that mass as possible before connecting with the shoulder, wrapping their arms around the legs and the driving the ball-carrier backwards into the dirt.

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“By the time the 2011 NFL season was under way, the Seattle ‘Legion of Boom’ was born. Serevi Rugby’s tackling techniques transformed the Seattle defence into the NFL’s stingiest unit, allowing the fewest points of any team every season between 2012 and 2015.

“The team reached the Super Bowl twice in that period and in 2013 held the most prolific scoring offence in NFL history to just eight points to win their sport’s ultimate accolade.”