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100 PAGES OF RUGBY VIEWS, ANALYSIS AND MORE. $9.95 VIP

BEN RYAN

RUGBY

EXCLUSIVE COLUMN

A FIJIAN REVOLUTION IN FRANCE HSBC 7s Series FULL COVERAGE

REMEMBERING RABENI FIJI RUGBY

AWARDS NIGHT

FRANK LOMANI

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

HOW GOOD IS

? D I L E M RATU

ISSUE 67


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SWIRES FIJI WARRIORS CELEBRATE WINNING

4 YEARS IN A ROW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER HON. RATU JOSAIA V. BAINIMARAMA


Source: World Rugby


CONTENTS

4

6 Publisher’s Note

18 USA 7s Hit The Jackpot

8 Fiji Rugby Awards

24 A Fijian Revolution In France

10 How Good Is Ratu Meli D?

30 Fiji Set Hamilton On Fire!

14 My World - Ben Ryan

38 Fiji Rugby Awards Night

| Issue 67


46 Rising Star Frank Lomani

66 Fiji Fry France In The Dubai Heat

54 Fiji Scoop Cape Town 7s

72 Cathy Wong Column

56 Jeremy Duxbury Column

74 Rayne Simpson – Kai Savusavu

60 Satish Narain Has His Say!

80 Remembering Seru Rabeni Issue 67 |

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE RANDALL KAMEA

Bula Vinaka Teivovo Rugby readers! We are happy to be back with a fresh new look, logo and team that will be keeping you up to date with everything Fiji rugby! From schoolboys, to women’s and men’s, both locally and overseas. There is a lot to be excited about over the next 10 months of rugby, culminating with the World Cup in Japan, especially after Fiji’s historic win in Paris, which took the Flying Fijians to 8th place in world rugby rankings. France has since taken over 8th place as they continue playing test matches in the 6 nations tournament. Teivovo Rugby will now be published bi-monthly and over the year we will be covering a number of important issues in the game including women’s rugby and its development, diet and nutrition, technical analysis and a line-up of top notch rugby columnists including in this issue: • Ben Ryan • Jeremy Duxbury • Cathy Wong • Satish Narain

• Rayne Simpson • Culden Kamea An area I am particularly interested not only in covering, but helping out in is player welfare during and after careers, with a particular focus on mental wellbeing. Being a current player and having played professionally for over 10 years, I have seen so many former, current teammates battle depression and alcohol. What it can do to a person and their family is the most terrible thing to see. It’s an area that I feel isn’t cared for enough and there are far too many players going into retirement and instantly losing the support network that rugby offers and has offered for a large part of their lives.

direction to young rugby players will provide direction to the communities they live in and people they live with. More on that later! Enjoy this issue and keep an eye out for cool prizes we will be offering in the magazine and on our Facebook page throughout the year. Go Fiji Go! Randall Kamea Publisher

Through Teivovo Rugby and of course working with the support of Fiji Rugby Union, I hope we can eventually create a good support network of administrators, past and present players, and community leaders. I personally believe it’s the best way to grow the game; providing guided

CONTACT US Teivovo Rugby is published by – Cards Feejee Limited P O Box 12248, Suva | Tel +679 9992 870 | Email: ckamea@gmail.com | Teivovo Rugby is also on Facebook. Contact Anil Prasad on 9040222 to order your copies. Teivovo Rugby magazine is printed by Quality Print Limited. 188 Foster Road, Walu Bay, Suva. Teivovo Rugby magazine print design and print management by Razor Communication. 190 Foster Road, Walu Bay, Suva Copyright © 2019 Cards Feejee Limited - All rights reserved. No material in this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the Publisher. Cover - Ratu Meli Derenalagi scores against Australia in the 2019 Hamilton 7s.

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FIJI RUGBY AWARDS

FRIDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2019 GRAND PACIFIC HOTEL

Speech by the Chief Guest – President of Fiji Rugby, The Honorable Prime Minister Ratu Josaia V Bainimarama

The Minister for Youth and Sports and his Assistant Minister, The Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners, Chairman and Board Directors of FRU, Representatives of Provincial Unions, Sponsors, Invited Guests, Players, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good evening and bula vinaka to you all. It’s a pleasure to be here tonight –– not only as your chief guest, but as the President of the Fiji Rugby Union –– to reflect on a year of remarkable success for rugby in Fiji, both on and off the field. It has indeed been a wonderful year, and we have many reasons to celebrate. I’d like to focus first on FRU’s “off-the-field” achievements –– chief amongst those was our successful inclusion to the World Rugby Council after more than a century in the game. That appointment to the World Rugby Council came after years of hard work, and I thank the FRU board for their foresight and drive in making this a top priority. After setting our sights on this goal and pursuing it with passion, this dream has become a reality in just three years. We achieved a great deal of progress as an organisation during this transformational period, making a number of vital changes in the way we conducted business, from introducing sound governance practices, amending the FRU constitution, and engaging a host of talented professionals to assist along the way. One of those new additions has already made a big splash on the sport: Ms Mere Rakoroi was appointed as a female director, and she has proven to be instrumental in advocating for women’s rugby.

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Just last year, we introduced a new women’s competition –– initially in a tena-side format, this will be expanded to full XV code in 2019. Our Fiji Airways Fijiana team gained great experience and success in their Australian tour, and I have also been extremely proud to see the growth of women’s rugby provincially, with 24 provinces and about 800 players now participating in the women’s competition. Ladies and gentlemen, this widespanning transformation has not been easy –– as with every bold change, comes stubborn opposition. We must commend FRU’s leadership for their foresight and fortitude. By looking ahead and not being deterred by detractors, they have facilitated a modernised structure and programme that has positioned us to move forward from an unprecedented position of strength. FRU’s newfound representation at the World Rugby Council will provide us with great insight, and give Fiji a voice at this forum for the first time. Already, our CEO John O’Connor has been asked to join the Professional Games Committee of World Rugby. This is a milestone achievement that will help take Fijian rugby to the next level, and again, I thank the board and management for their diligence in crossing the goal line. As part of our changes to the FRU constitution, we also brought the Deans and Kaji competitions under our wings, and will now be fully responsible for their conduct and oversight, as is the case with all other domestic competitions. The FRU will work closely with rugby

affiliates at Fiji’s primary schools –– our Kaji –– and secondary schools –– our Deans –– to ensure that these competitions are played and governed by rules and regulations that are fair, transparent, and in full compliance with all the World Rugby requirements. This is grassroots rugby at its finest, and if we are to compete consistently at the international level, it is critical that we get it right in these competitions. This can be a make-or-break phase for our young ruggers; it’s a turning point where, in the absence of a good support network, they may hang up their kits –– but with that network in place, they are positioned to thrive at higher levels. Our kids need to get the right coaching and guidance from properly-accredited staff –– from coaches, to strength and conditioning experts, to medics –– and I urge FRU to work closely with the two affiliates to make this happen. We need to get this right. Last year, Vodafone took over the sponsorship of the Kaji competition for the first time ever. Thanks to their support, FRU was able to provide financial support to each of the 36 districts, helping them to organise their districts’ tournaments without being burdened by cost. Through this sponsorship, FRU provided similar financial support to Fiji’s divisional competitions to host their tournament, helping to pay for transportation and accommodation costs for the teams, relieving parents and teachers of a roadblock to young ruggers participating. I was fortunate to be present at the stadium for the Kaji finals in Suva last


year, and to hear the appreciation of the teachers and parents from Vanua Levu, Kadavu, Gau, Koro, Naitasiri and Navosa, who were no longer burdened with the cost of transport, lodging and kits. This brought a smile to my heart, for rugby should never be a sport where one’s success is based on their means. It’s a sport of the people –– where the only barrier is true grit, talent and determination –– and that’s what has made Fiji so great on the global stage. I would like to thank Vodafone for their commitment to making rugby free and accessible to all Fijian boys and girls. I’m confident that FRU, together with executives from Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby, will make the most of this new partnership, paving the way for another successful Deans Competition. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, we will unveil exciting changes to the positioning of FRU, including a refreshed Fiji Rugby logo and other changes to its brand structure. This facelift also includes new Masi designs, unique to Fiji Rugby, to be applied to the jerseys of our national teams and other applications, reflecting our culture and heritage and creating a sense of continuity and connection to the values of our teams. Our warmest thanks to the artists for their help and enthusiasm with a project that will quite literally change the face of rugby in Fiji. I think that everyone here will be excited to see the more modern and streamlined brand –– changes that were careful to respect the traditional look we all love, while giving it a more modern and clean-looking upgrade that allows for wider use with FRU’s partners. Looking back at 2018, one of the most fulfilling aspects of the year was seeing the new and exciting talent making its way up through our pathway system from the Under 18 Team, to the Under 20 Team, to the Fiji Warriors Team, then up to the Fiji Airways Drua, and ultimately to the Flying Fijians. Through the Fiji Airways Drua, new players who made their debut in the NRC have gone on to play for the 7s Team, the Flying Fijians, or with overseas contracts. Each of these success stories is testament of the strength of FRU, and each story brings us great pride not only as an organisation, but as a nation looking to uplift our people.

Success wasn’t limited to the individuals, though –– our Under 20s won the Under 20 Junior World Trophy, and will compete in the World Championship in Argentina in May. It’s also exciting to see members of that Under 20 Team do so well in the National 7s Team. In fact, all our national teams –– both men’s and women’s –– punched above their weight in 2018, and continue to do all Fijians proud. Case in point: Who could forget the historical win by the Flying Fijians against the Mighty French Team last November? It was another David-versus-Goliath story that will go down in the history books. Reflecting on the success of our various teams in 2018 and the growing number of competitions and new pathways for both men’s and women’s rugby, I have great confidence that the future of Fijian rugby is brighter than ever. As we look ahead, I wish John McKee and his team great success at the Rugby World Cup in Japan this September, and I know we will all be cheering for Gareth Baber and his team to see continued success –– not only in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but also as they build towards the Olympics in 2020. And to all our other coaches and teams who represent our country on the world stage, the Fijiana, the Warriors, the Drua, the Under 20s –– a job well done on your achievements in 2018. Every time you don the Fiji jersey, you have hundreds of thousands of supporters, here at home and all around the world, at your back. But to those many fans –– I want to speak to you directly. I want you to never be blinded for your passion for the game, and never forget that these players are, above all else, Fijians. They are people, just like you and me. That’s why I was so disappointed to hear that players on our 7s team have become the victims of online hatred and bullying, with “keyboard warriors” leveling personal attacks on social media.

We must also never forget that for these players, this is more than just a game –– it’s their passion, and it’s their profession. They have loved ones who inspire them to pour their heart and soul into every match. Rugby has always been a uniter in Fiji, not a divider. It uplifts us in good times and in bad, and it gives us a reason to gather with our families and friends. It gives us an escape from the stress and the drama of everyday life. Let’s keep it that way, and pledge to support our ruggers through thick and thin. Be the fans they deserve. Ladies and gentlemen, as the Chairman said earlier, it’s not just the award recipients we are honoring tonight. None of them would have made it to where they are today without the network that has worked so hard to uplift them. To the families, the players, the volunteers and officials, and every fan across Fiji, I thank you for everything that you do to make our game truly great, truly special, and unlike anything else in the world. I thank those who work quietly behind the scenes to make rugby run like a well-oiled machine –– the FRU board, management and staff of all levels provide unseen support to our teams to ensure they are constantly prepared, every time they run out onto the field, allowing our players to focus wholly on their performance and shine for the world to see. My friends, I know you’ll join me in congratulating the various award winners tonight, and in sharing the tremendous optimism that I hold for the future of Fiji Rugby. In 2019 and beyond, greatness lies ahead. Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

This is not how a true fan acts. Even our 7s boys –– among the strongest men in our country –– are not immune to the immense pain that can be inflicted by cowards on their computers. I was also disappointed to see political statements being made about our team, going so far as to suggest they should intentionally lose their games as some form of protest.

Issue 67 |

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HOW GOOD IS RATU MELI D? CULDEN KAMEA You only have to start at his village and like Neath in Wales, Munster in Ireland or Melrose in Scotland, Nawaka is to rugby in Fiji – steeped in rugby culture, tradition and national heroes like Centre - Savenaca Aria, Flyhalf and 7s star - Esala Labalaba, Flanker and 7s star - Semisi Naevo Saukawa, Fullback - Norman Ligairi, Flanker / Lock - Apenisa Naevo, Halfback - Apisai Nagata, Flanker and 7s star - Manasa Qoro and Prop - Peni Volavola to name a few Fiji reps. Add to this, menfolk from Nawaka who registered with and played for other rugby Clubs in Nadi or Suva from where they were also selected for Fiji. Like all men from Nawaka village, Ratu Meli Derenalagi has rugby in his DNA; his Father, Ratu Vuniani Derenalagi was also known as the “White Shark”. Ratu Meli D’s uncles are “Man Mountain” - Semisi Naevo Saukawa and Apenisa Naevo.

Vakurunabili and Paula Dranisinukula excellent players all. And here’s why: So far in this HSBC World Rugby 7s Series 2018 – 2019 Ratu Meli D has played 31 games, scored 7 Tries, but on the down side, copped 3 Yellow Cards. But in terms of productivity for Gareth Baber, Ratu Meli D delivers in bucketloads. Across several key performance measures of all 192 players at every tournament on the current HSBC 7s Series to date: Offloads – Ratu Meli D is 13th overall behind Jerry Tuwai first and Kalione Nasoko second with Vilimoni Botitu 10th. In Tackles Made Ratu Meli D is 20th behind Vilimoni Botitu 5th, Kalione Nasoko 13th and Sevuloni Mocenacagi 17th.

As if that is not enough, Ratu Meli D is already an imposing 1.9M tall and still growing. In fact he had just turned 20 years old when Fiji Mens 7s Head Coach, Gareth Baber made an inspired choice pulling Ratu Meli D into his Fiji 7s squad for the Dubai 7s 2018 from where he has never looked back.

In fact, in Offloads, Tackles Made, Clean Breaks and Runs Made, young Ratu Meli D finishes above all other Fiji forwards except his Captain Kalione Nasoko. Granted he is playing more and so racking up the stats, plus Sevuloni Mocenacagi is playing more at Rover in the Fiji 7s team this series.

Consider this, 20 year old national 7s rookie, Ratu Meli D has been picked in Fiji’s starting line-up since Dubai 2018 for every other tournament on the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series so far including Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Las Vegas and Vancouver.

Stats are only half the measure of the young man.

And look at who young Ratu Meli D is keeping out of the Fiji 7s team, warming the bench when they could very well walk into the starting team of any other country on the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series – Mesulame Kunavula, Josua

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His work in the contact area on the tackle ball is second to none; more often than not, Ratu Meli D wins key turnovers, or at least gets in and slows down opposition ball. Watch him closely in games and you will see an expert at work, with Ratu Meli D using his powerful frame to force ball carriers to ground then quickly regaining his feet to hunt or defend as the case may

be. He is poetry in motion with the ball in hand, very creative and accurate in distributing - clearing and passing to other Fiji players in support . . oh and scoring tries – just look at his eyes on the cover again and in the photo opposite . . Ratu Meli D is very alert and in control of his body flight. He loves touching down. In only his third HSBC World Rugby 7s Series tournament in Hamilton, New Zealand, which the Fiji 7s team won and easily played their best rugby 7s so far this campaign, Ratu Meli D was named in the HSBC Hamilton 7s Dream Team alongside Captain Kalione Nasoko and backs Vilimoni Botitu and Aminiasi Tuimaba. In the latest Americas leg of the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series, Ratu Meli D has been hampered by heavy strapping to his right knee which has slowed the big man down. Let’s hope it is not a longterm injury and allowed to heal properly. He is this good now; imagine how good Ratu Meli D will be for Fiji at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.


Another try for the Nawaka young gun!


134

512

Dj Forbes record number of Sevens World Series games played.

Number of international caps earned by Rochelle “Rocky” Clark as of 8 Feb 2018, making her the most capped player in England international history, including both men and women.

4 Only four players in history have played as many international tests as Richie McCaw has international victories (130 - Brian O’Driscoll, George Gregan, Keven Mealamu, Ronan O’Gara).

18

Years 340 days – Age of Georgia’s Vasil Lobzhanidze when he made his Rugby World Cup debut, making him the youngest ever player to appear in a World Cup match.

37

Number of tests played by Richie McCaw against Australia. The most by one player against an opposition, with only six of those being defeats.

A GAME OF

NUMBERS

42

195 Tries scored by Portia Woodman on the HSBC World Sevens Series, making her the all time highest women’s try scorer.

25.7

Million – Number of rugby fans in India according to research undertaken by Nielsen Sports.

There have been 42 Hong Kong Sevens tournament to date.

Issue 67 |

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MY WORLD BEN RYAN

It’s a real pleasure to be able to write for Teivovo Rugby, share my views on various rugby topics and let you know what’s happening in my world! It’s not quite the same as being back in the Islands but it will have to do! I’ve really enjoyed watching the current HSBC 7s Series unfold in this really important year for Olympic qualification. I think it’s important to get that number one seed as it just gives you that little bit more confidence and edge leading into the Olympic Games. Saying that, I think if we had not then won the World Series the following year as well, it would have taken the gleam off that; two big years. Since I’ve left, the Fiji 7s team has gone through a lot of changes on and off the field. Losing Ropate Kauvesi and Osea Kolinisau are not to be underestimated. They brought discipline and leadership and togetherness. If it’s only the Head Coach trying to instil those things then it’s so much harder to drive and with those two, it was the three of us driving those key areas. Naca and William and Chris also helped hugely with that too and the first two still remain so hopefully they will also have an influence on the team too.

contracted etc as I was sure it would help the team. The most vocal I have been around that was after the Sydney 7s in 2018 and although I received a lot of public criticism from the Fiji Sun and FRU, it did its trick - the players got contracts and the team won the Hamilton 7s the following week. My only agenda there was to help as often within the camp. It’s a lot harder to speak up when change needs to be nudged in the right direction. It’s not nice to read about some of the off-field discipline problems that have hurt the Fiji 7s team either. Again, I’m not privy to what’s going on but what is important for the players and staff to fully understand is that any off-field illdiscipline will spill over onto the field and the team’s performance there. That connection has to be made and adhered to all the time. I remember when Semi Kunatani turned up late and drunk to a training session

before the Hong Kong 7s one year. It wasn’t really his fault as an overseas agent had tried to get him to sign with him and got Semi drunk in Suva. However, he stepped over the line and we didn’t select him for that Hong Kong. It weakened our chances of winning Hong Kong 7s hugely. The press didn’t know about it and it wasn’t made public but standards were standards. Semi learned a huge amount from that and I think helped him become the player that he is today. Lots more change this season with less and less of the Rio Fiji 7s team or those that were part of the back-to-back HSBC 7s Series wins part of the current squad. Again, experience cannot be underestimated and you only have to look at the USA 7s team and how much experience they have to see just how vital it is. The same will go for the Tokyo Olympic

I always get media from Fiji calling and emailing me to ask me what I think about the team and their performance. I have rarely commented as I just do not want to be the ex-coach that criticises the team in anyway. I want them to do well. I want them to win and it’s really up to those currently in charge to do that. They don’t need me to say anything publicly about the team performance. I have commentated on the times (not all of them), when the team were not being

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Ben Ryan Signing his life away!


Games in 2020. In Rio, all the teams were there for the first time but in Tokyo, there will be players and staff that have done an Olympics before and I can tell you it will make a huge difference. One of my consultant roles is with UK Sport and I work with them on a number of projects, one of which is a specific programme for coaches and management who are going to an Olympic Games for the first time. Before I was appointed as Fiji 7s Head Coach, it was looking likely I would be the Great Britain Coach for the 2016 Olympics so UK sport and British Olympic Association gave me support and invited me to the athletes village and various sports to get a taste of what the Olympics would be like. It was hugely helpful - little did we all know that I’d be facing the Great Britain team four years later as part of the opposition! UK Sport apart, I’m working for Nike in some research and innovation projects, writing for Rugby World and the Guardian in the UK as well as other TV roles and doing various other consultancies in professional sport, largely soccer. With the UK Sports role, I work across most of the summer Olympic sports and I love the variation that gives me and the learning it affords me. I also work for the French Rugby Federation across a number of projects too. I don’t do any coaching, just help teams and the FFR plan better and put together some projects that will really benefit them in the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. They have obviously targeted both those events for success and so I’m doing a few things around that to help. On top of working with corporations and my ambassador work with HSBC, it’s keeping me in London more, which was really important to me for personal as well as professional reasons. One other project I’m involved in is Rugby X. It’s 5-a-side rugby, using the simplest of laws and on half the width and length of a full size pitch. It’s perfect for an introduction into rugby, especially in places like inner cities where space is small and most teachers don’t have a background in rugby. The Beast Semi Kunatani on the rampage.

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HISTORY in Rio 2016.

I also do some social work around gangs and knife crime in London and just giving kids more opportunities to do sport and activity and keep them away from trouble and violence and drugs is a good thing and I hope this will also hope in a small way. It is also going to be a brilliant event at the elite end. The first one of these will be at the O2 arena in London in October - it attracts more visitors to watch sport and concerts etc than any other indoor arena in the world and to get Rugby there for the first time is a major coup. We hope to have 12,000 supporters there and it will be live on TV too. International teams have been invited, with very good appearance fees offered to all of thoses as well as free travel and accommodation so far the responses have been brilliant. Fiji has of course been invited and I really hope they say yes. I think with the money available, it will be a huge boost to 7s rugby as those players will get paid additional fees for playing Rugby X and that will mean as a sport, 7s rugby will be able to retain and attract even better players as salaries can go up as well. World Rugby has received A LOT of grief recently over the proposed new World League. I didn’t comment publicly on this as the piece in the New Zealand media

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was based on rumour and nothing substantial. I have had some private conversations around this competition and in every one, it always included Pacific team involvement. I think that will certainly be the case and hopefully Fiji will get to have regular Test fixtures against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa as part of this. It will be awesome if that happens and a major financial boost to Fijian rugby. With additional resources available for Fiji, it could mean the formation of a professional Club franchise on the island which would be another huge step in the right direction. Well that’s it from my world. I’m about to go to Vancouver for the 7s rugby with HSBC so no doubt you will all know the result of that tournament by the time you read this. I caught up with Semi last week as he’s living not too far from me. He’s looking in great shape and even said he’s stopped drinking any grog! I love seeing players like him and Bill Mata going so well and seeing how happy they are. It’s why we do what we do. I don’t see myself ever going back into fulltime 7s rugby coaching but it doesn’t

stop the memories remaining. I’m really hopeful I can get back to Fiji soon to see friends again and get some island life back into me. I love London and have a new life here now but the Islands won’t ever stop calling. Rumours of a feature film are true. I have also signed my life rights across to a big production company and they also took the book rights. I think any film will not be based on the book but rather on the story of my three years in Fiji and the amazing exploits the team had in that time. Production companies often buy book rights, not to use them but to make sure no one else can and that’s what has really happened here. It could be a quite amazing advert for Fiji, the islands and its people and a feel good story we can share with the world. As with all these things, it takes time to get all their ducks in a row but hopefully that will happen too. More from me next time, Veilomani Peni


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USA 7s HIT THE JACKPOT IN VEGAS! WORLD RUGBY MEDIA AND CULDEN KAMEA

USA retained their title in Las Vegas with a 27 - 0 victory over Samoa in the Cup final and became the outright leaders on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019. Three scintillating days of action at the Sam Boyd Stadium saw the home team finish top and further emphasise their credentials as potential series winners come the end of the season. After four consecutive Cup final appearances, finishing with four losses, Mike Friday’s outfit were willed on by a packed house. The fervent home support brought out the best in the side and the result was the retention of their tournament crown in Las Vegas. Despite losing Danny Barrett to injury at the end of the second day, the outfit dominated the Cup final with physicality in defence and sharp finishing in attack. In contrast Samoa, playing in their first Cup final since 2016, didn’t settle and went into the interval 10-0 down. The USA upped the tempo in the second seven minutes and never looked like losing. They scored five tries in the final with two coming from the HSBC Player of the Final Ben Pinkelman and kept their opponents scoreless. Speaking after the victory the USA captain Madison Hughes shared the feelings of excitement and pride after their recent Cup final losses, “If we’re going to win one of them then the one at home was the one we wanted. It feels so good, having missed out on it last year when I was up in the box injured. So now to be here on the field feels pretty good,” said Hughes. “I’m so proud. That final shows that the first day didn’t really go the way we wanted it to but there was such good

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fight in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. It feels pretty amazing to be out here now.” Pinkleman added: “It’s amazing. This is the exact moment we wanted. We had it last year and we didn’t want anything more than to be right back here, to be surrounded by everyone storming the field. It’s a great feeling.” After five rounds, and at the halfway point of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, the tournament victory creates a five-point cushion for the USA at the top of the standings. New Zealand are in second place, Fiji sit in third and England are currently in fourth, just one point ahead of South Africa. At the end of all ten rounds the top four teams will confirm their places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Twelve teams will compete for the Olympic medals in from 27 July-1 August at Tokyo Stadium and Japan are the only side currently qualified due to automatic qualification as the host nation.

Houston we have a problem! All credit to Mike Friday and Team USA – in a few short years who would have dreamed the USA would be leading the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series, albeit at the halfway stage, after making it to not 3 or 4 but 5 World 7s Series Cup Finals and defending their beloved Las Vegas 7s title. Newly knighted World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont must have been grinning from ear to ear at the wild scenes after the Las Vegas 7s final with American fans spilling onto the field to celebrate with their rugby 7s stars – it was the essence of sports celebration at its purest without the hype of all the cash, casinos

and Hollywood stars usually associated with big sporting events in Las Vegas. Hats off too to Sir Gordon Tietjens and Samoa! They have come a long way in a very short time together and it is a joy to see the great Coach’s influence on his young warriors from Samoa – they live off his every word and will die for the Kiwi Knight. Chile too deserves a shout out after they stunned South Africa 5 - 5 and whipped France 17 - 12 as an invitational team to the World 7s Series Las Vegas 7s. As for the Fiji 7s team, the quote from Apollo 13 astronaut, John Swigert to NASA Mission Control Centre, “Houston we have a problem”, seems most apt. As expected, Gareth Baber’s side started reasonably well, brushing aside both Scotland 36 - 12 and Wales 33 - 14 on Day One of the Las Vegas 7s with ease, but come Day Two and the Fiji 7s team played possibly their worst game ever so far this year, in their must-win final Pool game against Australia to top Pool D. By halftime, Fiji had missed 10 tackles and made only one line break. The Aussies had all the ball and Fiji was left chasing the game; it’s as simple as that. As a result of the 15 – 26 loss to Australia, Fiji finished second in Pool D and faced the All Blacks 7s in our Cup Quarterfinal next. Word from Las Vegas is that some Fiji 7s players were up into the night hosting well-meaning Fiji 7s fans and family after Day One, when they really should have been resting in bed.


Josua Vakurunabili bashes through the Blitzblok D. Source: World Rugby


Hair-raising collision between USA and Samoa. Source: World Rugby

New Zealand came from behind to snatch the win at the death 19 – 14 and as easy as you can lose a game of poker, Fiji was out of the Las Vegas 7s main competition.

Key results Gold medal match: USA 27 – 0 Samoa Bronze medal match: Argentina 19 v 26 New Zealand. Fifth place play-off: England 19 – 15 Fiji Trophy final: Scotland 15 – 14 Spain

To make this our worse tournament of this World 7s Series this World 7s Series, Fiji lost to England in the play-off for fifth place.

Cup Semifinals: New Zealand 19 – 24 USA Samoa 33 – 19 Argentina

Gareth Baber has much to work on if Fiji is to recover in time for the Vancouver 7s.

Cup Quarterfinals: Fiji 14 – 19 New Zealand

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South Africa 10 – 29 USA Australia 20 – 21 Samoa Argentina 26 – 21 England Fiji 7s Team to the Las Vegas 7s 1 Isoa Tabu, 2 Josua Vakurunabili, 3 Kalione Nasoko (c), 4 Paula Dranisinukula, 5 Mesulame Kunavula, 6 Ratu Meli Derenalagi, 7 Vilimoni Botitu, 8 Waisea Nacuqu, 9 Jerry Tuwai, 10 Alasio Naduva, 11 Aminiasi Tuimaba, 12 Terio Veilawa, 13 Sevuloni Mocenacagi


SOUTH AFRICA TRIP UP FRANCE IN VANCOUVER 7s CULDEN KAMEA AND WORLD RUGBY MEDIA Fiji played one of their best games this season so far to break down the All Blacks 7s in the Vancouver 7s Quarter Final. As usual, the Kiwis lifted for one of the great traditional rivalries in 7s rugby and both sides went tit-for-tat, ding dong, try for try from one end of the field to the other in the blink of an eye. The All Blacks 7s had most of the ball and controlled much of the tempo of the game, with our boys feeding off the crumbs to break out sporadically in typical Fiji fashion. As in the best of games between the two best rugby 7s teams in the world, this one was won on nothing less than tough defence on our part, especially right on the Fiji try line with the All Blacks 7s pressing, probing, stretching, testing for the winner and our boys holding steadfast shoulder-to-shoulder. After that man, Ratu Meli Derenalagi and

Vakurunabuli combined for a great 40M forwards try, it was left to our speedsters Tuimaba with a couple and Naduva off the last play of the game in extra time to seal the win. But it took the stuffing out of our boys, some already looked to be carrying injuries and they could not get up again for South Africa in the Semi Final. France meanwhile started off the Vancouver 7s as the usual whipping boys for the All Blacks 7s going down 7 – 45 New Zealand in their opening Pool game on Day One. Then the Frenchman went quite mad as only they can do; slashing and burning everyone in their path as Les Bleus beat an unstoppable path to the Cup Final. Along the way they shamed Australia 21 – 17, spanked Spain 26 – 10, socked

Samoa in the Cup Quarter Finals 35 – 12 and rudely burst Team USA’s bubble 33 – 5 in the Cup Semi Final. In fact the Americans never recovered from le shock, losing to Fiji 14 – 24 for the Bronze medal play-off in their worst tournament result so far in this HSBC World Rugby 7s Series. Fiji Pool Results Fiji 36 – 12 Kenya Fiji 19 – 26 Canada Fiji 31 – 17 Samoa Cup Quarter Final Results South Africa 33 – 12 Argentina Fiji 22 – 21 New Zealand USA 21 – 19 England France 35 – 12 Samoa Cup Semi Final Results South Africa 31 – 12 Fiji France 33 – 5 USA

Bye bye Timo - Jerry scoots away! Source: World Rugby

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American Carlin Isles in flight. Source: World Rugby

Other results Bronze medal match: Fiji 24 – 14 USA Fifth place play-off: New Zealand 26 – 19 England Trophy final: Australia 35 – 21 Canada Cup Final Result South Africa 21 – 12 France South Africa claimed their first tournament win since Paris last season by beating France 21 - 12 in the final of the HSBC Vancouver 7s. The two teams had never previously met in a Cup final and Pierre Gilles Lakafia’s early try forced South Africa to come from behind but they stood up impressively, putting three converted tries on France before conceding again. Selvyn Davids ran more than half the field to set up Impi Visser beneath the posts, Werner Kok stole the ball to set up Davids three minutes into first-half overtime, before Kok got on the scoresheet himself on the left-hand side. Stephen Parez scored a late consolation try — the 295th of the weekend, the most in a stage this season — with a remarkable run down the left, but it wasn’t enough to get his side back into the game.

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It marks an incredible turn of fortune for France, who picked up just one point in Las Vegas last week, reaching their first Cup final since Port Elizabeth in 2012. But they could not overcome an impressive South African side, who will look to use this performance as a stepping stone to retaining their HSBC World Rugby 7s Series crown.

simply too skillful for USA to seal third place, completing a 24 - 14 victory in the Bronze Final.

South African Captain Philip Snyman said: “It was a much-needed win for our team and I think the boys played some fantastic rugby throughout the tournament. I’m really happy with the win and hopefully we can build on this one now.

New Zealand finished outside the top four for the first time this season but confirmed fifth place with a 26 - 19 victory over England, whilst Australia lifted the Challenge Trophy after a clinical 35-21 victory over Canada.

“There’s a lot of talent in this group and back home and I can’t wait to see everyone together as it was only a matter of time before this team started to gel. They showed glimpses this week of what they can do and I believe there is a strong squad coming through.” Selvyn Davids, the HSBC Player of the Final, added: “We knew France was going to come for us. I wouldn’t have achieved this if it wasn’t for my team so thanks to them. We’ve a lot of youngsters but like the Coach said, if we can gel together then anything is possible.” Reigning Vancouver champions Fiji were

USA were asked to come from a 19 point first-half deficit in both their knockout matches, succeeding against England in the quarter-final but falling short against France.

After six rounds, USA still lead the series with 113 points, New Zealand second on 106 and Fiji third with 101. Victory in Canada means South Africa move to fourth on 89 and England move to fifth spot on 80. Next up Hong Kong, played between the 5 - 7 April, where the teams compete not only to take home the coveted Hong Kong 7s title but also secure their place at Tokyo 2020 with the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series acting as principle route for Olympic qualification and the top four at the end of the series gaining automatic seeded qualification.


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A FIJIAN REVOLUTION IN FRANCE WHEN CHAOS IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY

RANDALL KAMEA Across France, throughout the month of November, chaos was the order of the day as the French people rose up against increasing taxes and living costs imposed by their government. Revolution was in the air, and it would come on a cold November night at the Stade de France in Paris. But it wasn’t the revolution anyone expected. Unless of course you were wearing a white jersey or waving a sky blue flag, because no one does chaos and order like the Flying Fijians. For the last decade, Fiji’s biggest export to France has been its rugby players. Ever since that mesmerizing 2007 rugby world cup held right here in the land of love and revolution, France has been the country of choice for most aspiring rugby players from the South Sea Islands. The Fijian style of rugby and the French flair go hand in hand. It’s no wonder our boys fit into the system so easily. Throughout the years, the French have enjoyed watching some of the games best entertainers, such as Rupeni Caucau, Vilimoni Delasau, Jim Nagusa, Leone Nakarawa, Nemani Nadolo, Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu to name a few. It must surely remind them of a time when France once flew like Fijians. On that 24th day of November, the Flying Fijians were in town and boy did they come to play! France had a good team on paper and had just come off a good win against Argentina. But anyone who had followed their previous five test matches, which they lost, could see that the tri-colours were struggling for form, and just weren’t playing with their usual French flair. Fiji on the other hand, despite only just coming together as a squad, looked good against Scotland, but found things hard after receiving two yellow cards, which allowed the score

to blow out in the second half. Fiji built on that performance against Uruguay and showed what they were capable of doing with a bit more time together. Yes some may say it was only Uruguay, but to win a test match, or any game of rugby for that matter, by more than 60 points, you’ve still got to have a very accurate week of training and then put together a really good performance on the day. Much easier said than done. Come November 24th Fiji would’ve had a whole extra week together to build off the big win against Uruguay. 10 out of the 23-man squad that took on France not only ply their trade in the French Top 14, but are also regular starters and some of the best players in European rugby. It was no wonder that days before the test, whispers were starting to float around that Fiji could do a number on France in Paris. Fiji drew first blood in the 20th minute with a blockbusting try to Semi Radradra, while Josua Tuisova finished off some slick passing to touch down in the 32nd. However, it was France that would go into the break with the lead thanks to two converted tries to captain, Guilhem Guirado. France’s attempted second half onslaught was denied by a gutsy show of defence by Fiji, which held them scoreless. Ben Volavola kicked three penalties to secure the famous win in Paris. “We didn’t respect them, they walked all over us,” France center Mathieu Bastareaud said. Words echoed by his captain “I am very angry, very annoyed. We did not respect the shirt tonight. When you do not have the basics and the aggressiveness, you cannot start the game well. I am very disappointed. I lied to you yesterday

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BIG Bill Mata on the burst. Source: MB Media/Getty Images

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(referring to a press conference the day before) saying we were ready. We lied. It’s very complicated when you think the man next to you is going to do the job for you. Collectively, we never knew how to answer. Tonight, we had no respect and we are all responsible.” Fiji captain, Dominiko Waqaniburotu dedicated the win to the people of Fiji, proudly stating that the boys play for their homeland. The win was also a huge victory for local rugby and the development system in Fiji as the team included four players from the Fijian Drua team, which won Australia’s NRC competition last year, becoming a crowd favourite with their exciting brand of

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rugby. The win sees Fiji claim 8th spot in rugby’s world rankings, ahead of France, Italy and Argentina. But where to for the Flying Fijians from here? This is only the 10th time France has played Fiji, with the 9th test being in 2014. A lack of regular test matches against tier one sides, not much time together leading up to test matches and international tours, and either zero or very little gate takings from sold out test venues when they do get the chance to play tier one teams. These are only a few of the challenges, which are also faced by neighbouring Samoa and Tonga. All three nations will

once again be in a Rugby World Cup draw that sees them with shorter turn around times between games than their tier one counterparts. In the last World Cup, after beating South Africa, the results of fatigue and a short turn around were there for all to see in an otherwise spirited Japan side as they went down to Scotland. But adversity isn’t new to Fiji. Just ask their red haired chief, Ratu Peni Raiyani, about the road humps along the road to Rio gold. The resilience of both Fiji’s 7s and 15s teams reflects the country and people they represent. And it is also perhaps what makes this team so special. With all the adversity faced on the island,


2 LINES WORDS GOES HERE France Captain, Mathieu Bastareaud eveades Peceli Yato in Paris. Source: AP Photo/Christophe Ena

and all the challenges stacked against them leading up to and during this year’s World Cup, you’d be a fool not to think the Flying Fijians can come out of their pool victorious, and humbly singing, “We have overcome”.

Thomas, Mathieu Bastareaud, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin, Louis Picamoles, Arthur Iturria, Wenceslas Lauret, Yoann Maestri, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot.

France 14-21 Fiji Saturday 24 November 2018 Stade de France, Paris Half-time: 14-12

Reserves (16-23): Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Kelian Galletier, Antoine Dupont, Anthony Belleau, Geoffrey Doumayrou.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England) Assistant referees: Tom Foley (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan) TMO: Rowan Kitt (England) France (15-1): Benjamin Fall, Teddy

Lomani, Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, (capt), Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Sam Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu. Reserves (16-23): Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Kalivate Tawake, Albert Tuisue, Semi Kunatani, Henry Seniloli, Alivereti Veitokani, Eroni Sau Coach: John McKee Tries: Radradra, Tuisova; Cons: Volavola; Pens: Volavola (3).

Coach: Jacques Brunel Tries: Guirado (2); Cons: Serin (2). Fiji (15-1): Metuisela Talebula, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatabua, Vereniki Goneva, Ben Volavola, Frank

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HOT SHOT

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FIJI SET HAMILTON ON FIRE!

CULDEN KAMEA

Young gun Ratu Meli Derenalagi has forced his way into the Fiji 7s forward pack alongside inspirational Captain, Kalione Nasoko, a rejuvenated Sevuloni Mocenacagi and ahead of the very talented bench trio of Mesulame Kunavula, Josua Vakurinabuli and Paula Dranisinukula; who would be certain starters on just about any other team on the HSBC 7s Series circuit. What this has given Gareth Baber is, three equally good forward subs, who can come on in the second half and Fiji loses nothing in their substitutions, plus our starting three rest easy until the start of the next battle. Apart from trying to defend their Hamilton 7s title, Fiji has lost five Cup finals in Wellington – the most by any team for the New Zealand leg. For team USA, this was their third straight Cup final in as many tournaments for 2019 – their best start to the HSBC 7s Series ever. The scene was set for one hell of a haka in Hamilton! From the moment the Fiji 7s team hoisted the ball girl into the sky in praise before the Cup final, one could sense we were in for something special and boy did they turn it on. USA was left with no ball, no momentum and no score in the end as Fiji laid on the razzle dazzle for the packed out Waikato Stadium. In fact, for lifting the ball girl into the air, Fiji 7s Head Coach, Gareth Baber was presented with the Mark of Excellence Award (for good sportsmanship) immediately after the final.

Ni Sa Moce USA, Jerry Tuwai takes off

And then the fun started - just 3 Minutes into the Hamilton 7s Cup Final, Sevuloni Mocenacagi stole a USA lineout for Captain Nasoko to charge around the

front of it and flick off a sensational nolook pass to Meli Derenalagi after taking out Folau Niua by running directly at him and forcing the US master tactician to make the tackle. Derenalagi wisely kept well in from touch while making another 10 Metres before managing a very difficult offload under pressure to Jerry Tuwai for the Try! Fiji 5 – 0 USA. From the restart, full on fast forward D from Fiji had the Americans going backwards with the ball in hand; Team USA’s two key players - Carlin Isles and Folau Nuia looked like stunned mullets. From a scrum centre-field inside the American half, Fiji swung the ball left then right with Kalione Nasoko crabbing across field to set up Waisea Nacuqu to stroll in untouched for Fiji 10 - 0 USA. Just a minute or so later, Jerry Tuwai affected a brilliant one-handed turnover which went left to Aminiasi Tuimaba who powered in on the angle from 50Metres out for Fiji 17 – 0 USA at halftime. It was all looking too easy. Fiji was on fire and with the USA struggling to shut down their offload game, the Americans were chasing shadows. USA Coach Mike Friday was a desperate man in the huddle, “You can fight your way back. Seven minutes is a long time,” he pleaded. Friday knew that unless his soldiers could come out and score first it was going to be a long day at the oval office. After halftime our boys toyed with the tiring Americans, throwing the ball around, darting forward but not overcommitting on attack, just content to hang on to the ball and kill time and as

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Mesulame Kunavula eyes the Tryline

they say in Texas, “Time is money”. At this stage the Americans tackle completion rate was only 42% and as the TV commentator said, “You just cannot allow Fiji that sort of leeway”. In the background, the familiar chant from the crazy Fiji fans went up, “Go Fiji Go”. Team USA tried to run it out from inside their 22M zone but a brilliant piece of rugby smarts by Alosio Naduva resulted in another try for Fiji – he sprinted up fast on his opposite Carlin Aisles forcing USA Centre, Iosefo not to pass but go to ground with the ball and when it eventually did come out the American speedster was isolated, thrown to the ground by Naduva and penalized for holding on with Naduva trying to win the turnover – brilliant. From the quick tap penalty, Naduva anticipated something special from Jerry Tuwai and timed his sprint to perfection as the magical Tuwai bamboozled the Americans with a side-step out of

nowhere through their wall of defenders to unload to the speeding Naduva to dot down under the sticks for Fiji 24 – 0 USA. It was all over, not on the game clock but in the eyes of the Americans. In this form no one on planet earth could stop Fiji now. They were in the zone. The Fiji fans started celebrating, but with more than three minutes to go the patriots came fighting back, skillfully working the ball up field 90Metres to Fiji’s try line where young Vilimoni Botitu saved Fiji with a try-saving tackle and then single-handedly drove two Americans off their ball for Jerry Tuwai to clean up and dash 90Metres for Fiji 31 – 0 USA. Again Fiji drove the Americans off their ball from the restart for Naduva to burn them around the outside for the final nail in the coffin. Fiji 38 – 0 USA. Fiji was the 2019 Hamilton Sevens champions. After the game, inspirational Captain

Nasoko paid tribute to the fantastic support from the crazy Fiji fans saying, “It made us feel like we were playing at home, vinaka”. Proud Coach Gareth Baber told MC Willie Lose, “It was obviously very special. I want to say a big thank you to all the Fijian fans. They certainly lifted the team today and we appreciate everything you’ve done for us vinaka vaka levu.” Baber added that a key to their success was maintaining their standards, “It’s hard work, it’s perseverance, it’s belief in each other, it’s belief in the Lord and the power and the strength that he gives us,” he said. “But most of all its believing in all the people back in Fiji and this mark of excellence is for all the children that we see so often in Fiji play around us.” Jerry Tuwai deservedly won the HSBC Player of the Final Award for his two Tries, strong work in defense and in particular

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Oh Canada! Botitu too good

winning key turnovers at the breakdown. Captain Kalione Nasoko, Ratu Meli Derenalagi, Vilimoni Botitu and Aminiasi Tuimaba were all named in the Hamilton 7s Dream Team after the tournament. In reality the Fiji 7s team was the real Hamilton 7s Dream team! World Rugby is scheduled to announce the hosts of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for the next four years by April this year. HSBC NZ Sevens General Manager, Steve Dunbar said the second edition of the tournament in Hamilton had ticked every box. “To have more than 23,500 fans head to the ground on Saturday

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and then 25,111 on Sunday was great. Fans have really embraced the festival we have built around the venue and that balance between the carnival and rugby created a winning vibe.

“sold out” sign up early on day two of the 2019 Hamilton 7s and the capacity crowd partied and cheered through to the final whistle – it was easily the best tournament so far on the circuit.

“The costumes were fantastic, the Fijian fans were incredible, and the behaviour of the vast majority of people was exemplary.”

Other results

“We’ve proven this event works in Hamilton and we’re confident we’ve made the strongest possible case for World Rugby to award New Zealand the licence to keep the tournament here in 2020 and beyond,” Dunbar said.

Fifth place play-off: Samoa 19 - 24 Scotland.

We hope so. The organisers had put the

Bronze medal match: South Africa 7 - 29 New Zealand.

Trophy final: Kenya 7 - 36 England.


FIJI BLITZ SOUTH AFRICA CULDEN KAMEA

Before the Hamilton 7s started, Blitzbok Coach Neil Powell made the curious comment that their goal on this leg of the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series in Hamilton and Sydney was to make the Cup semifinals and anything more than that would be a bonus. For the defending HSBC 7s Series titleholder you have to wonder about his motives? Okay we get the underdog tactic, but how would his players have reacted individually and privately? Then Powell elected to leave his Captain, Philip Snyman on the bench with veteran and former South Africa 7s skipper, Kyle Brown leading the Bltizbok out into the arena. Whatever, Fiji absolutely blitzed South Africa in their Cup semifinal. Captain Nasoko bashed his way through their forward pack plus a fourth wouldbe tackler on Fiji’s 22 Metre line and then the Yasawa flyer pretty much outsprinted the Blitzbok chasing pack over the next 78Metres but for Werner Kok’s desperate tackle on the South African try line for Fiji’s opening score. Fiji 7 – 0 South Africa. The first two times South Africa had the ball they kicked wide across field right and then deep left behind Fiji’s defensive line for their chasers, but to no avail. From the second kick, speedster Soyizwapi knocked on over the dead ball line so Fiji had a scrum 5 Metres out from their try line. No sweat. Fiji worked the ball upfield on the left flank to halfway from where Aminiasi Tuimaba took off down the sideline at top pace, right over the top of Chris Dry for Fiji 14 – 0 South Africa.

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South Africa seemed to be trying too hard: Either that or Fiji was just too good. The usually accurate Blitzbok were committing too many unforced errors right across the park. The turning point came with less than 30 seconds to halftime when Kyle Brown tackled Ratu Meli Derenalagi late, sending him tumbling dangerously through 180 degrees, warranting a yellow card. It was unnecessary and effectively put an end to their chances after Fiji quickly moved the ball left to Nacuqu to skillfully round his marker and pass to Botitu to scamper in for Fiji 19 – 0 South Africa. At halftime an animated Gareth Baber urged his boys to “put the pressure on and squeeze every drop out of them. They are tired and on their haunches – pick the pace up. Set?” TV commentator Karl Tenana warned that South Africa were down at halftime against Samoa in their Cup quarterfinal earlier and came back and won. A big difference was our amazing Fiji fans. South Africa was still down to six men in the second half so Fiji went wide right and back wide left for Mocenancagi to drive hard for the line but the lanky cowboy from Navosa was held up over the try line, but from the ensuing scrum the outside backs engineered a wraparound Try for Nacuqu. Fiji 24 – 0. Fijian music blared out over Waikato Stadium. Our fans were dancing. As expected, the proud South Africans came charging back and almost crossed out wide on both flanks, but for scrambling defence by Fiji on the right

Tuimaba Powers Up! Source: World Rugby


Oh Werner! Nasoko scores a bolter

and a dropped ball by Kyle Brown in a two on one situation with the Fiji try line wide open. With two minutes and twenty seconds to go Paula Dranisinukula replaced Captain Nasoko and so the complete Fiji forward pack swap was complete, with Mesulame Kunavula and Josua Vakurunabili already on. Our starting three forwards could rest up for the final with no loss of momentum for Fiji. Well done Baber. Finally with one minute and thirty three seconds to go Selwyn Davids kicked ahead and re-gathered to breach Fiji’s D. Fiji 24 – 7 South Africa. From the restart the ball went wide to Naduva who smartly set Tuimaba free

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on the outside right and from 45 Metres out Fiji’s latest flying sensation scorched home to blitz South Africa 7 – 29 Fiji. Other Cup Semifinal USA 14 - 7 New Zealand

Answering Head Coach, Gareth Baber’s plea to score first in the second half, speedster Tuimaba did just that to effectively put the result beyond reach Fiji 28 – 7 Canada.

Cup Quarterfinals results USA 19 – 14 Scotland New Zealand 24 – 17 Australia South Africa 28 – 19 Samoa Fiji 33 – 7 Canada

At the back end of the game, two of Fiji’s big men, firstly Dranisinukula in defence and Vakarunabili showing great skills to score a brilliant individual try from halfway finished off the Canadian challenge while our starting forwards rested. Fiji cruised into the Hamilton 7s semifinal with hardly a sweat. Fiji 33 – 7 Canada.

Canada made Fiji work for their lead in the first half before Waisea Nacuqu showed his individual brilliance to weave through four Canadian defenders and after an exchange of passes with Sevuloni Mocenacgi Nacuqu crossed for a try 2 minutes after the halftime hooter for Fiji 21 – 7 Canada.

Fiji Pool results Fiji 54 – 7 Wales Fiji 33 – 24 Argentina Fiji 26 – 19 Australia


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PACIFIC RUGBY PLAYERS ASSOCIATION QUESTION & ANSWERS

Moving overseas or signing a first professional rugby contract can be quite daunting. This issue we spoke to Pacific Rugby Players Chief Executive, Aayden Clarke, about what PRP does, who’s involved and where; and what PRP can help you with. Bula Aayden and thank you for your time. First off, what is Pacific Rugby Players and what do you do? We were formerly called PIPA (Pacific Island Players Association) but two years ago changed to Pacific Rugby Players as a better representation of who we are and who we support. We are the official players association for Fiji, Tonga and Samoa who are the advocates for the player welfare issues and rights of the players. We not only look after professional players but also offer support to young emerging male and female rugby players of the Pacific and based around the world. There are over 700 players worldwide that we directly support with life after rugby education, player welfare support and representation regarding contractual and legal issues. We are the representatives for Pacific Island players at the strategic rugby tables when the various Rugby Unions and World Rugby are planning initiatives and schedules that affect the future of the game. For our education model please refer here: http://pacificrugbyplayers.com/ news/videos/ What was the driving force behind starting Pacific Rugby Players?

Samoa 7s Captain David Afamasaga. Source: World Rugby

The organisation was started in 2013 by a group of leaders in the Fiji, Tonga and Samoa teams that decided that the countries needed a voice for the players and an association to act on their behalf.

It was born out of frustration with their own various rugby unions at the time regarding player payments, player welfare issues and the desire to have a voice with the direction of the game in the Pacific. Who are the people involved and in what countries are they based? Oceania Hale T Pole – Chairman Ikale Tahi 2007 – 2015 Aayden Clarke – Chief Executive Hawkes Bay RFU 2003 – 2009 Seilala Mapusua Manu Samoa 2007 – 2014 Europe Akapusi Qera Flying Fijians Jack Lam Manu Samoa Siale Piutau Ikale Tahi Asia Deacon Manu Flying Fijians RWC 2011 Captain Faifili Levave Manu Samoa The game, particularly the geography of it has changed so much since Pacific Rugby Players was established back in 2013. You would’ve seen the game transition quite a bit. What have been your biggest challenges since being established? The ongoing challenge is always to have the players welfare considered and at the forefront of decision making. We have come a long way in improving our relationships with The Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Rugby Unions and by working alongside them, whilst keeping them honest, we have made improvements in areas such as professional contracting

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Tonga’s Haloti Tupou on attack at the Sydney 7s. Source: World Rugby

systems, player payments, designated personal development time for players and a wide range of other areas. The professional game has always been taking players from the Islands and this is increasing and this is a great opportunity for players. The challenge is to ensure players are relocated safely and that their overseas experience is a happy one and positive for them and their family. The work that we do to prepare players before heading overseas, the volatile world of dealing with player agents and the overseas clubs is very important.

as one of our education pillars. Trying to ensure players make the most they can financially out of the game and spend an invest their money wisely.

What are your biggest challenges dealing with the modern day game and players?

What are the benefits of becoming a member of PIPA?

Possibly answered above. Additionally – one education challenge is financial literacy education. We complete this with players of all levels

How can players get in touch with PIPA? Contact and free membership enquiries can be made through our website at www.pacificrugbyplayers.com or contact our CEO Aayden Clarke for any support requests at aclarke@pacficirugbyplayers.com

We are the only official rugby players association across the world that has free membership. Members receive access to a wide range of educational support to help them navigate their rugby

career and their life after rugby. PRP are available to support on various levels when a player max find themselves in need of help through contracting, club or other legal issues. Overall our members feel confident that they have a trusted and respected organisation representing them in the pacific and on a global level. PRP is their voice in areas that are important to them. Whether you’re a current professional or young emerging Pacific Island rugby player, Pacific Rugby Players is there to support you and your family, and provide guidance throughout your career. Please visit their website www. pacificrugbyplayers.com for more information and also to register as a player.

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FIJI RUGBY AWARDS NIGHT CULDEN KAMEA

The grand old lady was packed to the rafters and so she should be; after all it was thanks to the plumbing works during construction of the Grand Pacific Hotel that the Fiji Rugby Union was born just over a century ago, but that’s a story for another day!

On this night - Friday 8 February 2019 she was hosting the Fiji Rugby Awards Night with the President of Fiji Rugby and Honourable Prime Minister, Ratu Josaia V Bainimarama as Chief Guest.

After pre-dinner cocktails, over 300 guests moved into the Britannia Ballroom to be welcomed by Fiji Rugby Chief Executive Officer, John O’Connor. Thanks to their partnership with Telecom Fiji Pte Limited, the event was broadcast live on FBC TV.

Fiji Rugby XVs Female Player of the Year winner Rusila Nagasau.

Following the main speeches, the Awards rolled out as follows: • Pacific Rugby Players Association “Outstanding Commitment to Personal Development Award” – Vilikesa Ravutu • Fiji Rugby Primary School Player of the Year – Waisea Tuiyabayaba of Saint Theresa’s Primary School, Navosa • Fiji Rugby Secondary School Player of the Year – Jone Vatuwaliwali of Ratu Kadavulevu School • Fiji Rugby Domestic Player of the Year – Frank Lomani • Fiji Rugby Drua Player of the Year – Alivereti Veitokani • Fiji Rugby Hall of Fame Award – Ilaitia Tuisese Snr. • Fiji Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award – Paula Cavu • Fiji Rugby Match Official of the Year – Tevita Rokovereni • Fiji Rugby Administrator of the Year – Tiko Matawalu

• • •

• •

Fiji Rugby Coach of the Year – Senirusi Seruvakula Fiji Rugby Under 20 Player of the Year – Vilimoni Botitu Fiji Rugby 7s Female Player of the Year – Lavenia Tinai Fiji Rugby 7s Male Player of the Year – Jerry Tuwai Fiji Rugby XVs Female Player of the Year – Rusila Nagasau Fiji Rugby XVs Male Player of the Year – Semi Radradra Fiji Rugby Team of the Year – Suva XVs team

About halfway into the Awards, the MCs called for a break and ordered everyone to a scrumptious buffet dinner with a selection of breadsrolls, soup of the day and some serious salads including Lemony Leaf Salad, Prawn, Feta, Pumpkin and Bean Salad, Coriander Chicken & Cucmber Salad and Sea Grapes Salad. Unlike the old days when only a few backs ate salad to impress their girlfriends it was good to see a rolling maul of forwards around the salad station led by former Pakistan XVs prop, Hosh Trombaywalla leading the charge! For the hot dishes the Chefs of Grand Pacific Hotel wisely served up mains fit for a rugby team, from Moroccan Marunade Fish Curry with Poached Tomato & Coconut Cream, Roast Leg of Lamb with Balsamic & Fig Sauce, Wok Fried Chicken & Prawn with Vegetable and Cashew Nuts, Eggplant & Chickpea Caponata, Palusami, Fondant Sweet Potato to Cauliflower with Cheese Sauces and Lemon & Coconut Rice. As if all that wasn’t enough, the GPH desserts were to die for; Tiramisu, White Chocolate Mousse, Fruit Trifle and a special named after a girl from Savusavu - Coconut Honey Tart.

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Fiji Rugby Primary School Player of the Year winner Waisea Tuiyabayaba of Saint Theresa Primary School Navosa

Fiji Rugby then served up a couple of beauties in Ilatia Tuisese Snr for his special Fiji Rugby Hall of Fame Award and Paula Cavu for a Fiji Rugby Lifetime Achievement Award – a very nice touch and very well deserved. Just as guests were struggling at the end of the third quarter, Fiji Rugby pumped it up a notch with a slick presentation on the Fiji Rugby Brand Project as follows: Presentation on the Fiji Rugby Brand Project Four years ago the Fiji Rugby Union board began a transformation project with the vision to evolve and reform the administration of the game. Steeped in

tradition and growing more successful on the world stage, the time was right to step boldly into a higher standard of professionalism and excellence.

product and program an identity that linked them together. And showed the strength and stretch of our special brand both here and around the world.

The Executive set a number of clear goals to align the domestic competitions, achieve a World Rugby Council seat and improve the commercial position of the Union.

This is not a rebrand or a new logo, it is the next stage of development to enable our brand to do more, mean more and work more effectively in the digital age. As we know there is barely a global rugby symbol more recognised and loved than our iconic palm tree – worn on the chest of Fiji’s players for over 100 years - as they battle on the field for family, country and God. We broadly consulted the Fijian rugby family and were careful to acknowledge the significance of this emblem - its tradition, heritage and culture.

Following an intensive effort from many key and valued stakeholders we have made incredible progress towards achieving this vision. And one of the most visual components was to evolve the beloved Fiji Rugby identity so that it could showcase our whole brand family by giving each team, competition,

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And based on the vision to move Fiji Rugby into the modern era of professional sport, commissioned one of the world’s leading brand agencies, WiteKite to work with our team to evolve the brand and extend its use and opportunity. In addition to enhancing the emblem into a modern, flexible and transferrable form, a key objective for the project was to unite the many different, isolated identities that fall under the Fiji Rugby Union umbrella. Just like many iconic teams and nations around the world, we wanted to give

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our elite representative teams, their own identity and name and not have every team represented the same way. Like the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks we have our Flying Fijians, Fijian Sevens and Fijiana teams and now we have given each of those teams their own unique version of the Fiji Rugby logo. Following much consultation with our key stakeholders, our players (past and present), the board, our sponsors, fans and officials, we have retained the true essence of the iconic palm tree, the

uniting shape of the beloved ball, and the pride of Fiji Rugby‌ what you will see tonight has evolved and birthed into something we are truly proud of and confident will represent us well as we reach new heights. It is a progressive and dynamic identity that will stand us alongside the best sporting brands in the world. Following on from the creation of the different logo marks, we worked with local artists (Selai and Anare along with Niqa from the Ministry of Arts) to create and craft customised masi prints that


2 LINES WORDS GOES HERE Winners Are Grinners, Fiji Rugby Main Award Winners 2018 flank the Chief Guest.

encapsulate the values, mission and soul of each of part of Fiji Rugby; our union, our elite teams, our schoolboy rugby competitions and community rugby.

We also want to warmly thank Inoke Bainimarama for his guidance, support and commitment to the creation of these special designs for our Fiji Rugby brand.

who will do our country proud in Japan wearing this jersey bearing their unique masi pattern and Flying Fijian mark. Vinaka.

Selai, our talented masi artist worked with Anare, a modern graphic artist to integrate the traditional masi elements with unique rugby motifs, to create a truly unique and meaningful set of pattern designs.

From this day forward, these unique Fiji Rugby designs will become part of the fabric of our brand - used on playing uniforms and collateral to represent and identify each of our teams and of course all parts of Fiji Rugby.

Each of the Masi Rugby pattern designs are supported by a rich narrative that tells their story and the strength behind them.

And in this extremely exciting year of the Rugby World Cup, we are honoured to reveal the first masi pattern design to be worn by the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians

It was then left to Fiji Rugby Chairman, Commander Francis Kean to deliver a stirring Vote of Thanks and end the formalities by very thoughtfully calling up the entire Fiji Rugby team based at Rugby House onto the main stage to take a bow. Congratulations Fiji Rugby for a fantastic 2018 and a great Awards Night.

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Fiji Rugby XVs Male Player of the Year - Semi Radradra. Source: World Rugby

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Fiji Rugby Drua Player of the Year Aliveretu Veitokani. Source: Getty Images

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RISING STAR FRANK LOMANI We talk to this issues rising star, Frank Lomani. TR: What sports did you play growing up?

make sure I am in the gym on time doing my programs. He helps me with a lot of off field situations and makes sure I am well prepared for national duties. Ah yes, Bill is great man!

FL: Growing up in the village, rugby was one of the many sports I loved playing. My Dad never allowed me to play rugby when I was in primary school because he didn’t like seeing my brothers and I getting injured while playing, but little did he know, rugby was where my passion lay.

TR: You had an amazing end to 2018 representing Fiji, beating France in Paris and playing for the Barbarians at Twickenham, where you set up the crucial try to tie the game and delivered the pass for the match winning drop goal. Can you please tell us a bit about the whole experience?

TR: Well we are sure the whole country is glad that you stuck with it and followed your passion.

FL: Beating France in Paris and playing for the Babas will be one of the highlights of my career. We had a good prep week going into the weekend against France. The Boys prepared really well in training and all the things we were trying to achieve just came our way. I think it was the great effort and energy from the boys that won us that game.

TR: What has been your biggest hurdle getting into professional rugby? FL: One of the challenges I faced getting into pro rugby was the ability to lead as a new, young halfback. Being the link between the forwards and backs and having to direct players I look up to is never easy. It’s a role that requires so much confidence to be able to be a successful halfback. Another one was that I had to play against France with a fractured AC. During our prep week in Paris I had to work extra hard in order to cover for my bad right shoulder. Our physio told me to rest and not play that week but I told him, “If that shoulder needs five straps give it six. My shoulder isn’t stopping me from playing for the country that I love.” TR: You’ve really grown into the role quite fast and you’re doing a great job! That was a great effort against France, let alone with the injury you were carrying. TR: Who has been the biggest influence on your sporting career so far? Fiji Rugby Domestic Player of the Year Frank Lomani

FL: Mr Viliame Gadolo - This man has been a good influence in my upbringing. He makes time in his busy schedule to

Playing for the Babas was a Game to remember! I am so grateful to have worn that jersey and shared the experience with so many great people from around the world. This team taught me to be creative and at the same time have the confidence to do things under a lot of pressure. That crucial try set up was due to good support and that offload was just the Fijian style of rugby. Throwing the ball from any angle before hitting the ground is in the blood of every Fijian that is playing rugby around the world. The last drop goal pass delivered to my mate, Elton Jantjies, was only my vision. We never even planned it and if you see the clip, he wasn’t even ready when the pass came to him. Well, it’s all about taking the opportunity and turning it into points. TR: Yes we’ve seen the clip and the pass was so unexpected that Elton ended up having all the time in the world to kick his drop goal without any pressure from chasers.

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Frank Lomani fires out another perfect pass. Source: World Rugby

TR: What do you like to do off the field to relax and get away from rugby? FL: Every chance I get on my days off, I go and visit my family back in Savusavu. Spending time with them is important because I don’t really have the time when rugby season is on unless I have a long week break to go visit them. To get away from rugby and relax I usually go on day cruises to small islands like South Seas,

Malamala Beach Club, etc. and spend some time out chilling by the Beach. TR: Savusavu is one of our favourite getaways too! TR: Do you have a pre game ritual? FL: I have a pre game Routine that I always follow. To be mentally prepared, I write down my specific goals I want to achieve in the game and keep reading it

whenever I have a chance. This approach has helped a lot in previous games I’ve played. TR: Writing goals down is powerful. Reading them often, even more so. You’ve nailed this approach! What do you miss the most when you’re on tour?

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The things I miss when I’m on Tour are my two sisters, Joy and Lewa, the food, weather and my friends in the yasa. TR: For English speakers, yasa is short for yasayasa, which means neighbourhood in Fijian. TR: What have you learned on the rugby field that has helped you grow as a person? FL: Rugby has taught me to be a gentleman not only on the field but off it as well. It’s taught me to respect others, especially my opponents. Rugby has also taught me to be honest, especially to myself – to always work hard, even when no one is looking. TR: It’s a true test of character to hold yourself accountable when no one is watching and you seem to have loads of it. TR: We recently read that you turned down good contracts from Wasps and the Melbourne Rebels to stay in Fiji and prepare for the Rugby World Cup. Firstly we’d like to commend you on such a brave and selfless decision. What made you decide that? FL: If Wasps were after any other player in Fiji, they would’ve signed. I have a plan and I’ll be patient with it. Sometimes dealing with rugby is not just about money. As long as I’m trusting the process and being patient with it is what matters. Growing up as a kid, I’ve always wanted to don the white jersey and play in the Rugby World Cup. Now I have the opportunity, I’m not going to let it slip out of my hands. TR: You’ve got a mature head on your shoulders for such a young man. A great asset for any halfback! Frank, thank you for your time and for the numerous sacrifices you make to represent Fiji and do us all proud each time you run onto the field. All the best for the New Year and your RWC preperations. GO FIJI GO!!

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Frank Lomani on the burst against France

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Fiji F


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OUR SECRET WEAPON - Fiji Rugby 7s Fans All Over The World.


THE LOST ART OF THE DROP GOAL The elusive drop goal was once a first choice for fly halves and teams alike when searching for points to reward their hard work. These days, they are few and far between. Accomplished modern day goal kickers like Dan Carter, Owen Farrell, Leigh Halfpenny, Morgan Parra, etc. haven’t kicked more than ten drop goals in their illustrious careers. In a list of the top 20 leading international rugby union drop goal scorers, Andrew Mehrtens and Morne Steyn sneak in with 10 each, Ronan O’Gara sits at 15, and Jonny Wilkinson leads the pack with a total of 36. And those are the most “modern day” kickers on the list! Jonny Wilkinson has kicked a total of 36 drop goals for England with 14 of those coming in two Rugby World Cups. Eight of those were in the successful 2003 campaign with his most famous to clinch victory in the final against Australia. In 2013 as Toulon surged toward their first Heineken Cup victory, Wilkinson had 17 attempts to put the ball between the posts during the knockout stages of the competition. He was successful with—you guessed it—all 17 of them! To date, the drop goal has won two world cup finals – Jonny Wilkinson in 2003 and Joel Stransky in 1995. But perhaps the greatest exhibition of the drop goal came in 1999 on that sunny Sunday in Paris when 28-year-old Jannie de Beer, the Springboks second choice flyhalf, who was only in the side to replace the injured Henry Honiball, kicked England out of the rugby world cup quarterfinals. De Beer took aim at goal 12 times and was successful in each attempt. A remarkable

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feat on its own but five of those were drop kicks all inside 32 minutes from a total range of 180 Meters! Drop goals, like any other play, should be practiced and encouraged more. They’re a valuable part to any fly half’s skillset, and at any level of the game, drop-goals have had a recurring tendency to win the biggest matches. Extra-time Rugby World Cup finals, Joel Stransky, Johannesburg, 1995 Final, Jonny Wilkinson, Sydney, 2003 Final. Grand Slam decider, Ronan O’Gara, Cardiff, 2009, Lions’ finales JPR Williams, Auckland, 1971, Jeremy Guscott, Durban, 1997, Six Nations, Johnny Sexton, Paris, 2018. A drop goal is worth 60% of a try and 43% of a converted try. Yet when a game is there to be won, or simply to put out of reach of the opposition, most modern day teams would rather risk going for a 5 pointer instead of taking the 3 on offer at all times. The November 2018 internationals saw a narrowing of the gap between the top 10 teams in World Rugby standings. The winner of this year’s Rugby World Cup, or even making it out of pool play could well be decided by the slightest of margins. Will we see a return of the drop goal in the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.


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The best drop goal ever - Jonny Wilkinson wins the 2003 RWC Final. Source: Getty Images


FIJI SCOOP CAPE TOWN 7s CROWN

CULDEN KAMEA

It was Fiji’s first win in South Africa since 2009 and the boys made it look easy with a flying start against the hapless Frenchman, posting 50 unanswered points on them in the blazing heat of the Cape Town sun. In their second Pool game, Fiji pasted a relatively new Kenya 7s team 38 - 7 as they transition to some new rugby 7s blood with their old stars hanging out for more pay back home, led by 32 year old Collins Injera scorer of 271 tries on the HSBC World Rugby 7s Series . Then came the big test of Day One for Fiji against England. It was just as well our three kickers all had their kicking boots on and converted all three tries our boys scored.

Jerry Tuwai blitzes the chasing pack

Fiji - England Scorer Time & Action Score M Derenalagi 2’ Try & 7-0 conversion V Botitu A Tuimaba 4’ Try & 14 - 0 conversion V Ravouvou W Muir 8’ Try & 14 - 7 conversion D Bibby J Tuwai 12’ Try 21 - 7 conversion W Nacuqu W Miur 14’ Try & 21 – 14 conversion T Mitchell AJ Davis 15’ Try 21 19

The next morning Fiji swiped aside Spain in the Cup Quarterfinals 46 – 7 with almost training run ease, then shaped up to hosts South Africa in the Cup Semifinals, or what could just as easily have been the Cup Final, it was that tense. New South African flash, Soyizwapi opened the Blitzbok account with an early try, but just two minutes later, Botitu followed by Nacuqu, countered with tries of their own for Fiji to move into the lead 12 – 5. Then South African super-sub, Rosko Specman made his mark with a neat kick and chase try and equalizing conversion by JD Geduld to lock the scores up at 12 all with 3 minutes counting down. Plenty time. The arm wrestle continued with weary legs and tiring D on both sides then Gareth Baber played the Ace up his sleeve – Naduva. The Blitzboks were out on their feet with no one talking and it was a momentary lapse in D which allowed our flyer Naduva to score the winner from a ruck with no one marking him. BOOM games over red rover. Suddenly all the Castle Lager flowing in the Cape Town Stadium lost its taste. Just like that, South Africa was out of their main Cup competition. Fiji – South Africa Scorer Time & Action Score S Soyizwapi 2’ Try 0 - 5 V Botitu

4’ Try 5 - 5

W Nacuqu 6’ Try & conversion

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Winners are grinners at the Cape Town 7s

W Nacuqu R Specman 10’ Try & 12 conversion D Geduld A Naduva 14’ Try 12

12 -

17 -

Cape Town 7s Final Fiji 29 – 15 USA After easily beating Fiji in Dubai the Americans had to be reasonably confident of a win here in their second Cup Final in a row, but after a couple of hits, American flyer, Perry Baker was put off his game sufficiently to not be a threat to the extent he never looked like scoring and was subbed in the second half. After some great early D with the Americans in possession and pressing for the opening try, Kalione Nasoko cleared out of a ruck to throw the biggest dummy in South Africa and had enough

speed to go all the way from 80M out for Fiji’s opening try in the desperate tackle of Werner Kok. Three minutes later, again on the back of strong Fiji D, Botitu snapped up the intercept after USA Captain, Madison Hughes telegraphed a cut-out pass tying to out-flank Fiji out wide. He converted for a comfortable Fiji buffer. Pinkleman scored a double and speedster Carlin Isles dotted down late but it was never going to be enough for Mike Friday’s side. Mocenacagi scored, then Vilimoni Botitu and Captain Kalione Nasoko both scored again with a conversion from Vatemo Ravouvou for Fiji to scoop the Cape Town 7s crown. Rookie Centre, Vilimoni Botitu won Player of the Final for his two Tries, the second of which broke the Americans spirit. “I want to thank the management for being here with me and the boys who gave everything for me to achieve what I

achieved here today”, he said in receiving his prize. Gareth Baber said, “It’s been a long time coming for the Fijians to win in Cape Town. We were disappointed last week that we didn’t manage to perform to the level that we have done this week. It makes me most proud that these players have done everything for their families back home and the country of Fiji. It’s great, Fijian fans are everywhere in the world, wherever we travel and we say a big thank you to all those who make a big effort to come and support us. We’ve had some battles, most notably South Africa in the semifinal, but all credit to the players and staff – they’ve manned up.” South Africa beat New Zealand 10 - 5 for the bronze medal.

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TURNING POINT FOR WORLD RUGBY

JEREMY DUXBURY

Not since the advent of professionalism in 1995 has rugby faced such a dilemma. When Gregor Paul of the New Zealand Herald spilled the beans last month on World Rugby’s latest revision of the proposed Nations Championship, I nearly coughed my morning coffee onto the keyboard. No Pacific Island nations included for 10 years, and therefore no matches for Fiji against Tier 1 nations outside of the Rugby World Cup? Which hoity-toity, colonial rugby officials seriously thought (i) that was a good idea, and (ii) that nobody would object? Thanks to Gregor’s revelations, the news quickly went viral and received global condemnation, leading to every World Rugby official involved sounding like Shaggy singing “It wasn’t me!” World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper tweeted about an “avalanche of media in last 24hrs” and “many inaccuracies.” Former Pumas halfback Gus Pichot, who is World Rugby Vice President as well as a director of USA Rugby, took to social media to say he would “never support a league that doesn’t have a pathway for emerging nations.” Led by Pichot, the latest version of the concept – first introduced last September – was discussed at a meeting of Tier 1 Rugby CEOs and USA Rugby in Los Angeles on 28 January. The “World League” proposes combining the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship with the June and November tours into one meaningful 12-team annual tournament with each team guaranteed 11 matches before the semi-finals.

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There would also be second and third divisions, though in Los Angeles some bright spark proposed (i) that the USA should be in the top tournament despite being ranked 15th (Fiji are 9th), and (ii) no relegation/promotion would take place for 10 years. Instead of refusing this colonial-era version outright, World Rugby sat on it for a month whilst looking at the commercial implications of having the USA participate instead of Fiji. To compound the red faces, two days after the warped proposal hit the news, the US Eagles lost 32-25 at home to 17thranked Uruguay. As this issue of Teivovo Rugby goes to press, FRU CEO John O’Connor is flying over to Dublin after a lastminute invitation by World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont to join the discussions. Also in attendance will be a representative from the International Rugby Players Association, which has voiced strong concerns about the impact of a new yearlong competition may have on player welfare. “While senior players have consistently voiced their support for the concept,” the Association said in a statement, “ongoing concerns exist around the detail of the competition format that has been taken to market in recent months.” The International Rugby Players Council of almost 40 players spoke via conference call to discuss the potential 12-year deal, with nine of the world’s top 10 international team captains dialling in. Senior players from around the globe were united in their concern about the proposed format, in relation to:

• Player load challenges from multiple top-level Test matches in different countries and time-zones in consecutive weeks • Increased long-haul travel in short time frames • A lack of real opportunities for Tier Two nations to progress • Increased conflicts between country and club demands and Regulation 9 release periods • Potential impact on Rugby World Cup and Lions tours • The long-term quality and integrity of the international game International Rugby Players President and Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton said: “While players gave this idea a cautious welcome when we met at the end of last year, it now seems like a commercial deal on the future of the game is being negotiated at a rapid pace with little consideration given to the important points we raised with World Rugby in November.” “The issue of player load has never been so topical. To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level Test matches in consecutive weeks in November, is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings.” Player Council member and current All Blacks captain Kieran Read added: “After listening to the issues raised by many of the players, we need to be very careful that we balance the commercial needs of the game, with the player welfare needs and ensure the quality and integrity of matches meets expectations.” “Fans want to see meaningful games; they don’t want to see fatigued players playing a reduced quality of rugby as part of a money-driven, weakened


competition that doesn’t work for the players or clubs.”

Flying Fijians captains Akapusi Qera and Deacon Manu on its Board.

Before World Rugby backtracked and invited Fiji to the table, talk of an actual Rugby World Cup boycott had reared its head in some circles, including the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, an independent group led by Daniel Leo. The former Samoa Test rep pledged to canvass its 600-strong membership on whether Samoa, Tonga and Fiji should stage a World Cup walkout.

So where does this leave us? And what impact might it have on Fiji, Samoa and Tonga?

“It is time for a legitimate player protest,” Leo told The Irish Times. “This (proposal) would be a disaster for the Pacific Island nations, and for any nation omitted from the top 12 teams.” “Now is the time for the voice of Pacific rugby to be heard through our players, so that we might head off this calamity. And we invite our national unions to join this collective effort to repel this proposal, before it is too late.” But the Pacific Rugby Players (formerly Pacific Island Players Association) stated that “the players of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa remain 100% committed and are looking forward to competing at the 2019 Rugby World Cup”, a view currently shared by the three unions themselves. Pacific Rugby Players is chaired by Tongan loose forward Hale T Pole and has former

If the concept goes ahead and World Rugby does the right and moral thing by including Fiji ahead of the USA as well as having promotion and relegation, then Pacific Island rugby stands to benefit enormously. It could mean teams like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina playing a Test in Fiji every second year – and given that neither the Pumas nor the Springboks have EVER played a Test in the Pacific Islands, this would be revolutionary in terms of the development of the sport here. Financial payments for participating teams have been mooted at F$14 million and F$20 million a year – enough for the FRU to contract its players properly and bring them back from professional club duty. But therein lies potentially the biggest problem: The Premiership in England and the Top 14 in France control so much of rugby’s time and finances and both would likely be hesitant to support anything that diminishes their lucrative revenue streams. What we really don’t want is a competition in which teams

like Fiji have to field a weakened team because they can’t secure the release of its best players. Promotion and relegation would be just as important in the European Conference as in the Rest of the World Conference, and this may ultimately mean a forever changing Six Nations line-up. The main TV contracts for the Six Nations come to an end in 2021, so let’s hope the national rugby bodies of the countries involved see sense and open the competition up to the European Nations that have been waiting on the sidelines since Italy joined the fold almost 20 years ago. It should be noted that since February 2015, Italy have lost every single Six Nations match they have played – 21 to be exact. They are also ranked two places behind Georgia in the world rankings, so providing a promotion/relegation system would not only help develop the sport of rugby in countries like Romania, Russia and Spain, but it ought to improve the tournament as well. Tasked by unions last May to examine the feasibility of competition structures that had the potential to reinvigorate the July and November windows, World Rugby said its goal has always been to create:

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World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for services to rugby at Buckingham Palace. Source: World Rugby

• the best-possible environment and opportunities for players • a first-ever pathway for emerging unions to compete at the top table of annual competitions • a better fan experience with enhanced meaning and attractiveness of fixtures • financial certainty for unions • harmonisation with club rugby • revenue maximisation for reinvestment in all levels of the game globally That all sounds nice and jolly… so why

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am I still sceptical? Well, history has shown time and again that rugby is the least democratic team sport in the world and the Pacific Islands always get shafted ¬– on and off the field. Since the demise of Vernon Pugh in 2003, no-one at World Rugby has really stepped up to the plate and said, “Come on, fellas, let’s make this game global.” Petty national interests have always taken priority over real rugby development.

status. The Celtic nations have also made more effort to tour the islands, but England, France, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina still keep to themselves.

Granted, Australia has been supportive in recent years and were the first nation outside of the islands to give Fiji Test

- Jeremy Duxbury

If all this gets off the ground, Brett Gosper is without doubt the most experienced official to take it forward commercially. Let us just hope that he and his colleagues put rugby first.


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SATISH NARAIN HAS HIS SAY! FIJI WOW HAMILTON

Sunday evening fireworks heralded Fijians celebrating wildly – Fiji 7s had just scored a smashing back-to-back victory at the Hamilton tournament to start 2019 on a high note. Gareth Baber’s men were in scintillating form after setbacks at home in the lead up with two key playmakers missing selection because of off-field deeds. Fiji Champagne tasted nice the whole weekend and even the Prime Minister quickly tweeted a family picture in top cheer after the final, congratulating the players. A great off-season, which simply meant the sacrifice during the festive season, paid dividends in Hamilton. The sand dunes journey and the hard hours of work in getting combinations and tactics right, stood out like a shiny gem on the top shelf of a King’s closet. Fiji was dominant and running hot – burning out the Welsh 54-7, scoring 8 tries to 1, which was a bold statement posted by a side that boasted the biggest fan club in Hamilton. The Fijian crowd was our eighth man and they were absolutely fantastic. The 4 tries to 3 victory over Australia in the final pool match may have sent out some wrong signals, but our boys were just warming up on a cool Hamilton evening. Fiji bulldozed over the opposition on day two and they were spellbinding in smashing Canada, South Africa and the United States. In fact, Fiji scored 16 tries versus only 2 against, on the final day. Apart from juggling an invite to a dear friend’s place for a memorial prayer in Nausori, timing the run home to watch

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Fiji wallop Canada in the quarters and later to watch a clinical performance against World Series champions South Africa in the semifinal – it was evident that USA will need all 12 players on the field to stop the Fijian juggernaut in the final. Our boys shifted into top gear vs South Africa, crushing them 5 tries to 1 and making them look ordinary as our attacking game was unstoppable. Skipper Kalione Nasoko led by example and former leader, Jerry Tuwai stepped up to the mark on day two. He was instrumental as Fiji romped home, keeping the US Eagles scoreless in the final. Tuwai got 2 of our 6 tries in the end to be awarded Player of the Final in New Zealand. Hamilton was a beauty – a classy show - no other words to describe that great win. Sydney Graveyard A week in between tournaments is demanding and Fiji found out in a tough way across the ditch in Sydney. While emotions filled social media on Fiji’s exit in the semifinal vs New Zealand, our side looked out of touch and a shadow of the rampaging Hamilton team. New Zealand had a game plan, part of that was to get into the heads of the Fiji boys and didn’t Kurt Baker succeed. Baker is rugby 7s enemy number one for many Fijians but you have to give it to him for his heroics on the field. He caused havoc for the Fiji defence, and after he made a break to set up a try - a friend quickly sent me a message, “I hate Baker.” I am certain thousands echoed that statement. Six-men Fiji struggled to hold on as the

All Backs 7s ran riot and tasted sweet revenge over their Hamilton conquerors. Sevuloni Mocenacagi copped a lot of criticism for his tip tackle that got him a red card, but I thought Sevu made a great tackle and just put in a little bit too much into it and the officials were right to flash him the red. Playing catch-up rugby and being a man down is always going to be tough, it proved just that as our side was bundled out of the Sydney 7s main comp. England later got the better of Fiji in the bronze play-off and two losses in a row stained our record; this, after our side had won 16 on the run, starting at the Cape Town 7s in December 2018. Sydney remains a graveyard for the Fiji 7s team – the crop of 2020 will now have to try and get that monkey off our back. Defence and Offloads delight We must shout out to Gareth Baber for working on our players’ individual defence and the team’s defence patterns. It’s a known fact that defence wins games and Fiji was ruthless in defence in both Hamilton and Sydney – though they lost a lot of fire power in the second event. I think the threes pattern was worked well by Fiji and the advantage of strike players spread all over the park certainly proved a menace for the opposition. Apart from that ill-fated Mocenancagi tackle in the semifinal in Sydney vs New Zealand, the rest were superb. Fijians are known to be hard-hitters but being organized in defence and under pressure – this team showed great improvement. Rugby fans and TV editors around the world love Fijian 7s – the timely offloads


– the no-look passes, flicking back passes as the tackle flattens a man, putting runners into space with overhead passes etc. are a Fijian trademark in the sevens world.

Even the great record-setting UK middle distance runner, Steve Ovett used dunes training in his heyday. It is recovery and timing that needs to be perfected for our side.

There were some gem passes from Nasoko but I think the Mesulame Kunavula side-door pass was top of the pile.

Professional trainers might argue otherwise but there needs to be some study done as all mechanics surrounding this issue needs to be studied well and implemented in the right way to deliver the positive result.

Defence and especially tackling techniques needs to be seen as work in progress with the World 7s Series getting tougher in destinations far off from our beautiful Fiji. Stand out players In Hamilton, Aminiasi Tuimaba was my pick of the lot. He had the eye and sheer speed for the tryline. The Suva based soldier is an Army regular in rugby and he has been a revelation – an ideal replacement for Eroni Sau. The resurgence of Jerry Tuwai at Halfback – my word. I’ve been told he wasn’t too happy when he was stripped of the captaincy but he’s a team player and he is a great Fijian warrior. The Newtown kid is a hero in Fiji and hats off – Jerry scored two scorching tries in the Hamilton final that must have popped a few nails off the roof and rafters in some houses in his neighborhood.

While many would say that we must always start every game with all guns blazing, I think we need to size-up our opponents and play smarter in pool play. There’s no need to smash opponents and pile on 50 points. Saving your starting seven for the next game and managing their workload is more crucial.

crunched until now. The Future v and his men are hitting the right notes in the early part of the season and with six events to go, they have the potential to win the World 7s Series this year. I guess Baber needs to fine tune his rhythm and our side will be able to deliver a box office finish this year. And with the way things have unfolded thus far, an Olympic spot looks set on the horizon, with a colourful rainbow as the topping – this can only be spoiled if our side suffers a huge drop in form to miss the top four at the end of the World 7s Series in Paris in May.

There are many questions that can be raised around performance in the Sydney 7s tournament and why Fiji has failed to make it back-to-back wins anywhere on the World 7s Series.

A good friend loves orchids and said they have a magic that seems to set them apart from every other flower. Orchids are a large family but every species has a unique look – just like our Fiji 7s which is an exceptional brand. We wish them our best as they carry the hopes of our nation beyond Las Vegas and Vancouver.

As far as I am aware, no answer has been

- Satish Narain

In Sydney, youngsters Vilimoni Botitu and Ratu Meli Derenalagi toiled hard. Both are getting into the groove fast, as long as a Euros-laden French or European club Contract doesn’t fall on their lap soon – they’ll be in good stead to be our key runners in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Wise Nacuqu stood in well at playmaker but we still need a potent weapon in that position. Kalione Nasoko is slowly growing in maturity in his leadership and after a long time – Fiji have shot out of the blocks with 2 wins out of 4. On the fringes, I guess, police officer Rusiate Matai could add the much needed firepower in the backline going forward. Sydney failure I think managing the work load of players is going to be a difficult one for Fiji 7s. Questions have been raised – are the sand dunes working? It did work in Hamilton but seven days later in Sydney and our boys looked gone for all money.

Gareth Baber, the man in the hot seat. Source: World Rugby

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CHEWING THE FAT WITH NICKY PRICE We spoke with Nicky Price, ex Australian 7s, Aussie Rules, French Top 14 and ProD2 player, and asked him what some of his go-to workouts are. Big on functional strength and conditioning, Nicky shares his fitness journey with over 40k followers on Instagram and is in the midst of developing some online training programs – watch this space! You can follow Nicky on Instagram @nickyprice_ for more workout ideas and motivation. Running circuit: 30s on 30s off x 8 (150M-180M) Rest 2min 30s 20s on 20s off x 10 (120M) Rest 2min 30s 15s on 15s off x 12 (100M) “Those distances are my personal ones. Everyone will have different goals and capabilities so adjust it to suit you. The key to this session is to set distances that are challenging, and consistently hit them in each effort.” “Inside the gym I enjoy powerlifts like cleans and snatches, and I love combining cardio with powerlifting for my sessions. This is a quick session that will give you a good fat and lung burn.” Power circuit: 30s assault bike 10 power cleans 10 box jumps Rest 1 min Repeat 4 times TIP: On the assault bike, go as hard as you can and try to hit the same number of calories each time.

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FIJI FRY FRANCE IN THE DUBAI HEAT CULDEN KAMEA Gareth Baber picked some young and inexperienced players in his first Fiji 7s team on the all-important 2018 HSBC World Rugby 7s Series qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Mesulami Kunavula

25 12

1 5

Beniamino Vota

26 5

1 5

Coming into Dubai 2018, Vilimoni Botitu, Aminiasi Tuimaba, Meli Derenalagi and Beniamino Vota had only played a combined total of 35 games on the HSBC 7s Series and rather surprisingly, Mesulami Kunavula who seems to have been around the Fiji 7s team for a while now, has only played one game more than newcomer, Botitu and only has one try against his name.

Aminiasi Tuimaba

23 11

6 30

HSBC World Rugby 7s Series Player Stats Player Age Games Tries Points Waisea Nacuqu 25 108 63 417

Ace Nasilasila doubles around for a Try in Dubai

Vatemo Ravouvou

28 208

74

912

Amenoni Nasilasila

26 157

59

587

Jerry Tuwai

29 222

101 509

Kalione Nasoko

28 121 58 294

Vilimoni Botitu

20 11

6 40

Meli Derenalagi 20 8

3 15

Apenisa Cakaubalavu 25 17

5

Alosio Naduva

35 181

28 50

27

Sevuloni Mocenacagi 28 121 41 205 Fiji opened their 2018 Dubai 7s campaign walloping France 41 nil with the Frenchmen totally lost; a shadow of their best teams of the past. In fact of all the Tier One rugby 7s playing-nations France has gone backwards faster than Cyclone Winston. Nowadays they appear to be more at home playing touch rugby or doing the can-can than manning up and putting in the tough tackles and doing the hard yards. They actually need a couple more French Fijians to provide the connectivity that they so obviously lack in sevens rugby. Virimi Vakatawa would form a dangerous French Vanilla combo with Tavite Veredamu in their forwards and a flyer like Alivereti Raka out wide would be the icing on the cake. Meanwhile Fiji piled on seven unanswered tries with lanky long-striding Navosa cowboy, Sevuloni Mocenacagi unlocking the flimsy French defence in the first minute of their clash, followed by tries to Captain Kalione Nasoko and playmaker Amenoni Nasilasila before rookie Centre, Vilimoni Botitu and speedster Alosio Naduva helped themselves to a couple of tries each and in the process blasting France off the park 41 nil.

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Would you like French Fries with that Sevuloni?

Fiji 41 – 0 France

and cross the Fiji tryline.

Conversion

7-0

1’ S Mocenancagi Try, V Ravouvou Conversion 7-0

All he needed to do was ground the ball to put his team in front and close out the game, but Farndale inexplicably attempted to sneak past one last desperate Fijian defender to score under the posts and ended up being shoved over the dead-ball line before registering the score and well, Scotland lost.

RAJ Ferguson Try

7-5

8’ M Macfarland Try, G Lowe Conversion

7 - 12

11’ A Tuimaba Try, W Nacuvu Conversion 12

14

-

The Scots still qualified for the Dubai 7s Cup Quarterfinals knock-out stage in second place in their pool, but ended up with a far trickier quarter-final draw against the All Blacks 7s the next day, which they lost 7 - 21.

12’ A Naduva Try, V Botitu Conversion 12

21

-

13’ S Pecqueur Try, G Lowe Conversion 19

21

-

5’ K Nasoko Try

12 - 0

8’ A Nasilasila Try, W Nacuqu Conversion

19 - 0

10’ V Botitu Try

24 - 0

12’ A Naduva Try

29 - 0

14’ A Naduva Try and Conversion 15’ V Botitu Try

36 - 0 41 - 0

Scotland oh so Unlucky If you didn’t notice, there were only 20 seconds left on the clock in the Scotland versus Fiji pool match in the 2018 Dubai 7s with the boys in blue trailing 19 - 21, when young Wing, Jamie Farndale did exceptionally well to step inside two flailing Fijian defenders on the right flank

Fiji on the other hand, topped the Pool and went on to face the United States of America in their Cup Quarterfinal where they also lost. Fiji 21 - 19 Scotland 0’ K Nasoko Try, V Ravouvou

Fiji spank Kenya to cap Day One Kenya can be difficult at times in sevens so the key to beating them is to score early and don’t take your foot off the pedal or they will sneak up and bite you in the bum.

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Which is exactly what Gareth Baber ordered and the boys delivered with three quick tries to that man Mocenacagi again, followed by Captain Nasoko and Nasilasila all within the first 5 minutes; boom game’s over, the Kenyans rolled over and Fiji had the Pool all sewn up.

3’ K Nasoko Try

10 - 0

5’ A Nasilasila Try and Conversion

14’ V Ravouvou Try, A Nasilasila Conversion

43 - 7

17 - 0

16’ JO Otieno Try

43 - 12

8’ S Motari Try, E Agero Conversion

17 - 7

For good measure, the boys added four more tries in the second half to Jerry Tuwai, Nasoko again, Cakaubalavu and Ravouvou while the Kenyans stole a try two minutes over time.

9’ J Tuwai Try

22 - 7

10’ K Nasoko Try, V Ravouvou Conversion

29 - 7

12’ A Cakaubalavu Try, A Nasilasila Conversion

36 - 7

Fiji 43 – 12 Kenya 1’ S Mocenacagi Try

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5-0

Dubai 7s Cup Quarterfinals England scalped South Africa 22 - 5 New Zealand scuttled Scotland 21 - 7 Australia roasted Argentina 38 - 0 Fiji 14 - 24 USA 2’ P Baker Try 6’ A Cakaubalavu Try, V Ravouvou Conversion 8’ P Baker Try, MJ Hughes

0-5 7-5


2 LINES WORDS GOES HERE Fijiana on attack in Dubai

Conversion

7 - 12

9’ MM Iosefo Try

7 - 17

11’ F Niua Try, MJ Hughes Conversion

7 - 24

14’ A Cakaubalavu Try & Conversion

14 – 24

Two first half Tries to Perry Baker had the USA in front 12 – 7 at halftime. Then crafty cowboys Iosefo and Niua scored before Fiji could register any points in the second half and it was all over red rover at 24 – 7 with only 3 minutes to play

and the Americans in total control of the game. In other results on Day Two of the Dubai 7s, Fiji 31 – 21 Argentina and then Fiji 24 – 19 South Africa to finish in 5th place in Dubai with New Zealand 21 - 5 stopping USA in their tracks, to take out the Cup Final. England pipped Australia 15 – 14 for 3rd place

as follows: • • • • • •

Samoa 21 – 19 Argentina Samoa 12 – 19 South Africa Samoa 17 – 15 Zimbabwe Samoa 40 – 12 Japan Samoa 26 – 22 Spain Samoa 33 – 24 France

Meanwhile almost sneaking through unnoticed, Sir Gordon Tietjens young Samoa 7s team finished a very creditable 6th place after accounting for all opponents except South Africa in Dubai

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Tuimaba and Tuwai eye up their options in Dubai

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“WOMEN” IN THE GLOBAL GAME OF RUGBY CATHY WONG OF WORLD RUGBY COUNCIL MEMBER My story begins with the background and history of women’s rugby of World Rugby. The game of Rugby Union belongs to World Rugby as a registered company based in Dublin, Ireland with a vision of “A sport for all, true to its values” and a mission of “ Growing the global rugby family”. Rugby has been played globally since 1886, with now over 7.73 million men, women and children playing the game worldwide while the rugby family continues to expand with 121 unions in membership of World Rugby. Women and girls have been playing rugby since 1930. However the recognition and status of women’s rugby has remained marginalised, and neglected in terms of equal opportunity and equal status of women both on and off the field. Women’s international rugby union has a history going back to the 19th century but it was not until 1982 that the first international fixture involving women’s rugby union took place. The match was organised in connection with the Dutch Rugby Union 50th anniversary and with France wining 4-0. Official recognition of women’s internationals was not immediate with games being organised outside the control of either national unions or World Rugby. International women’s 15s rugby grew slowly. First recognised games were played in Sweden, France and Netherlands in 1984; followed by Italy in 1985; USA, Wales, Belgium played in 1987; Spain, Germany and Scotland in 1989; New Zealand played in 1980 BUT

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was not established until 1990; Soviet Union in 1990; Japan in 1991; Ireland in 1993; Australia, Russia and South Africa in 1994; Portugal in 1995; Hong Kong in 1998; Samoa in 2003; Fiji and Tonga in 2006. Now we have over 50 nations playing at least one test match in the game of 15s. For the game of 7s; Fiji played its first sanctioned game in 1997; Samoa in 1999; New Zealand in 2000; Cook Islands, Tonga and New Caledonia in 2010; PNG in 2007 and Solomon Islands in 2012. In 2018, Nauru created history as the smallest country to send a women’s 7s team to a sanctioned Oceania 7s Tournament in Fiji. Unlike the men’s rugby, there was historically no official ranking of women’s teams, prior to 2016. World Rugby generally referred to the placings of preceding World Cup. Serge Piques, has produced an unofficial ranking for women’s tests rugby which was published in 2009, similar to the

methodology adopted for the men’s game. In 2017, a historic and unprecedented decision spearheaded by Chairman Bill Beaumont, World Rugby increased the number of people who sat on Council – its highest decision-making body – from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women. The ground-breaking reform gave 11 unions and six regional associations, the right to send an additional representative to Council subject to that person being female. This did not result in any changes to the existing voting rights of unions or regional associations on Council. Beaumont said: “If we are to promote and nurture the growth of women in rugby then change must be led from the top”. Driven by a highly successful inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Programme and the thriving HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, women’s rugby has experienced unprecedented

1931 West Tamworth’s Sports Cup winning Women’s Rugby Team which featured 5 sisters


growth with participation levels at 2.4 million women and girls playing rugby at all levels, accounting for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of players globally, an increase in player numbers of 60 per cent since 2013. Katie Sadlier (World Rugby General Manager Women’s Rugby) in 2017 said: “The decision to increase the representation of women on Council to more than a third will change the way we govern the sport going forward, making a difference not just for women in rugby but for all of rugby. By ensuring women have a voice on our highest decisionmaking body, we will benefit from more balanced decision-making, setting standards not only for our sport but also helping to drive the agenda to inspire future generations of young people globally”. As the Oceania Representative, I am also on the Regional Committee of World Rugby. This committee is tasked to: • strategies regional competitions and events in tier 2 member unions to maximise participation of member unions • support tier 2 member unions in delivering events nationally and regionally • support and facilitate the pathway to enable tier 2 regional countries membership onto “Council” • Report to “Council” That’s all from my desk. Next issue I will talk about the growth and challenges of Women’s Rugby within the Oceania Region. Cathy Wong – OF Oceania Rugby Women’s Director World Rugby Council Member

Fiji’s Asinate Ufia Savu on the burst! Source: World Rugby

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RAYNE SIMPSON – KAI SAVUSAVU I was delighted to be approached by Teivovo Rugby magazine and asked to write this column for such a reputable rugby publication. Teivovo is one of a few true rugby-specific magazines in the Pacific and has become an icon in the sporting journalism landscape here in Fiji over the past two decades. After relocating to Savusavu from Sydney, I have involved myself in the local rugby community holding a very “hands on” position in coaching and administration within my local province. Thus far, it has been an exciting journey - helping shape the future of provincial rugby in the northern region and assisting in the identification and development of amazing local rugby talent. A key highlight has been working closely within the Fiji Rugby Union provincial competition – a domestic competition structure where every province throughout Fiji is involved in either the Skipper Cup or Vodafone Vanua Championships. These competitions have extended their reach into many isolated areas of Fiji and has provided the vehicle for rugby provinces to search for, and draw out, hidden talent. If not already, with recent success in 7s and 15s, I have no doubt that Fiji Rugby Union are on a wave to something special in the years ahead. Fiji Rugby Union has been working tirelessly to improve our game, in particular at grass roots level, with significant focus on the promotion and expansion of Womens 7s and 15s rugby. Another major improvement is the High Performance Talent Identification and Pathway programs, ranging from age group level through to U20s, Warriors, Drua, Fiji 7s, Flying Fijians, Women’s 7s and 15s. Most recently, the FRU has

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invested in the development of emerging rugby programs and directly supported the School Boys Deans competitions. With the Fiji Rugby Union Board and administration hierarchy successfully in place, the challenge ahead is directed at the on-field results. Notably, the recent 7s World Series success, the performance of the Drua winning the Australian Rugby Union NRC competition and the Flying Fijians performances with their historic win over France in late 2018, all indications suggested that Fiji rugby is positioned to become a powerhouse of international rugby. The remaining on-field performances include securing the World Rugby 7s series and then shifting attention to the Rugby World Cup 2019 this September in Japan - the pinnacle of the traditional rugby code! In the lead up to the RWC 2019 in

Japan, I will take the opportunity within this column to analyse the opposition teams whom the Flying Fijians will play, including some tactical observations and recommendations. The Flying Fijians are in Pool D with the Wallabies, Wales, Georgia, and Uruguay. The Flying Fijians are scheduled to play; • Wallabies 21st September • Uruguay 25th September • Georgia 3rd October • Wales 9th October In this issue, I will analyse the Wallabies team during their last two matches against Italy and England respectively, and take the opportunity to share some thoughts on where the Flying Fijians can gain advantage. These are my views alone! Wallabies November Tour Analysis versus England

Will Quade make the RWC 2019? Source: Getty Images


Attacking Game Lineout Their lineout game structure is dominated by off the top ball 90% - 95% and catch and drive option 5% to 10% of total lineouts. ALL of their lineouts had No.1 set at the front 5m and the No. 3 set at the 15m back of the lineout. All others involved were walk ins. Shape Three dominant lineout shapes identified with several options per lineout: Walk in - Full lineout

1 7 8 6 4 5 3

A 7,8,6,4,5 walk in with 5 Jumper options. They identify on walk in the weakest defensive Pod and attack that space with initiation and speed. It is a simple system which relies on the chosen jumper being boosted faster to the ball than any hinging defensive unit. The dominant option in both games was No. 6. 5 man lineout

1 8 6 5 3

Jumper options revolve around the defensive set up – again a walk in with 8,6,5 with the back jumper identifying and calling which of the 3 jumper options to execute. 6 man lineout (4 + ripper man walk in)

1 8 6 4 5 3 7

This being the Wallaby drive lineout Again no.6 main man. Calls option on walk into lineout after defence has set. No.2 throws 7 rips, 2 hits in on drive to give maul momentum and allow 9 to come in from the 10m mark. They seem to favour this lineout as their attack option ie; 5 – 10m out in Defence. Options taken from; Driving lineout • Wallabies catch and set maul to bully and gain momentum. This is a key element of their game, they will bully this area if given the opportunity. You must drop the maul early or you could use a stand-off call which causes confusion and uncertainty resulting in ball being moved away from static situation. • They will set to drive; a forward will

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Wallaby Centre Tevita Kuridrani. Source: AAP: Lukas Coch


feed 9 away from maul who normally finds 10 with a flat pass on the gainline. 10 brings runners of himself, favoured option is blindside wing on an outside ‘shoulders’ ball. • They will initiate the drive and then an individual forward will peel away from maul to create momentum. Appears to be called by 9 to enable other forwards to support ball carrier into ruck 1. They sometimes appear disorganised and are vulnerable to turnover at ruck 1 Off the Top Ball • 90/95% of the time the Wallabies bring a runner off 10 who has taken a flat pass from 9. Favoured option is to use blindside wing as ball carrier into ruck one of 10. Off ruck 1 they will bring forward runners as option off 9 to hit gain line wrapping with the direction of play. • Against the better teams very little evidence of first phase wide plays. Observations/ Recommendations Drop driving lineout at source, URGENCY at defensive set up, body height - get ourselves under theirs, get UNDER the lifters and jumpers to get them off balanced before a tight drive to the side line is an absolute must – a back off play might be option if referee has been briefed. This is the key to their confidence and game philosophy. Undermine this area and you will strike at the heart of their attacking game. The Wallabies WILL test us with a tight game. Take away Wallabies attacking space in the 10/12 channel do not allow them to cross the gainline in the channel. Employ aggressive defensive line speed to take away space at phase 1 and 2 Wallabies management of Ruck 1 and 2 is poor. They often rely on only two support runners to win the ball. As a result, aggressive combat structure at ruck 1 and 2 should result in a break down of their game structure and the half’s having to kick. No. 6 is the dominant lineout option and controller. Scrum Early in both matches the Wallabies scrum came under a lot of pressure. Against England they conceded a high percentage of penalties or free kicks. However, they seemed to improve as the match progressed. Their game structure does not change

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greatly between lineout and scrum, although a slightly higher percentage of ball is moved into the middle 12/13 channels. Observations/ Recommendations Wallabies Scrum can be attacked but this is all relative to your own strengths and weaknesses. England with a strong scrum managed to disrupt their scrum game. As at lineout if you take away the Wallabies attacking space in the 9/10/12 channel do not allow them to cross the gainline in the channel. Employ aggressive defensive line speed to take away space with much focus on slowing starter play ball (Phase 1) and Phase 2 Wallabies’ management of Ruck 1 and 2 is average for speed of ball to 9. They often rely on only two support runners to win the ball. Being aggressive with pre-determined hunters for Ruck 1 and 2 should result in a breakdown of their game structure and the half’s having to kick. Potential high turnover area is ruck 1 at scrum time. Poor shape and flow from 10 when ball distributed from base. Get off defensive line and pressurise 10 and 12. Defence Game General The Wallabies employ a ‘rush’ defence depending on your definition. What I am seeing is fast line speed to take away your attacking space as quickly as possible. Each player remains in and defends his own space and channel. They will adjust and slide if a ball is thrown wide early off 10 or 12 and/ or a long over the top ball. Good flow and timing by 10 and 12 will fix midfield and allow you to play wide of a narrow and uncertain wide defence. Playing behind or 2nd man plays into midfield will also sit defence square on and not allow them to recover their ground. Lineout Maintain line speed with both 13 and open side wing pushing up hard into wide channel. In their own defensive third of the field they put the blindside wing into the 10 channel to allow greater defensive width and to stop opposition going wide off first phase. Lineout defensive Shape To encourage a slow down of Phase 1 and two your best raiders are required at these contact zones. Operate two

defensive lifting pods which wonder and aim to cover all options. This allows 7 to work with 8 at tail of lineout to pressurise 10/12 channel. 9 is able to sweep from 5m to fill scrum half role left by 7. Scrum Wallabies defensive structure allowed England to continuously trouble them on starter plays Left Hand Scrum defence – relies on 7 and 9 to fill the 10 channel allowing a wider defensive line Right Hand Scrum Defence – 10 stands tighter to the scrum and the defensive line becomes shorter. Observations/ Recommendations • Off the top lineout game with runners into midfield will give easy and good attacking momentum to ruck 1. • 10 channel vulnerable particularly in own defensive third when Blind side winger is in 10 slot. • Take away their defensive space in the 10/12 as early as possible with good flow and/or block runners. • Build game off accurate starter into midfield. Slow down their line speed in the first 20/25 minutes of the game. • Scrum Game - again take tackle line early and play with width of ruck 1, through your 10’s hands. - Playing 2nd man runners in the 12/13 channels on 1st phase will sit the defence down and allow you to play wide of the narrow line. • They are well organised off slow ball situation ( kicking game!) • Shorter lineouts to allow big ball carriers to attack their midfield. Good Luck.


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IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR “BELE” Bele (Abelmoschus manihot) is one of the most nutritious vegetables available to our people, and should be a central component of our diet. Especially considering the high number of diet related diseases in the Pacific. Bele is readily available at most street food markets around the country, it’s affordable, and the best thing is it can also be planted in your very own backyard. We recommend including Bele as a part of your meals twice a week. Here is a quick and easy bele soup recipe with a side of fish. We’ve thrown in a special tip to make your bele soup extra

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tasty. Cut each leaf off the stem (do it so that there is no stem attached to the leaf but there can be a bit of the leaf left attached to the stem), throw away the stems, wash leaves thoroughly, break the leaves up with your hands, chop up half an onion, put two cups of water in a pan to one bundle of bele. Add salt (or chicken stock powder for even better flavour. DO NOT use both salt and chicken stock, as it will become too salty. Add a little stock to start and then add to taste as you go). When the water starts to boil, put your bele in and stir then let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Switch stove off.

Salt and pepper your fish, lightly dust it with cornflour, pan fry it and serve with a bowl of bele soup on the side. For choice of fish, we prefer one of the following which can be easily found locally - Walu, Yellowfin Tuna, Nuqa (little spinefoot, vermiculated spinefoot), Kabatia (lethrinus harak) For an even healthier option, steam your fish or boil it in the pot before adding your bele leaves. Enjoy!


SUPPLEMENTS VS FOOD HOT SHOTS Keep the oil in the fish and the fish on your plate Real fish beats fish oil Research has shown that eating fish helps with primary prevention of heart disease and higher consumption is associated with greater protection. They also found that each additional 100-gram serving of fish per week is associated with a 5 percent reduction in risk of acute coronary syndrome. For so long, we’ve looked at heart health and the benefits of Omega 3s through the amber lens of the oval shaped pill. Forgetting that Omega 3s can be found in a variety of foods such as salmon, tuna,

mackerel, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, oysters, flaxseed oil etc. Fish oil can’t be completely written off because something is better than nothing. However, all vitamins and nutrients are much better in their natural food form. Try and include fish in your diet at least twice a week. Dump the pre workout for black coffee

When it comes down to it, nothing you put into your body will make you bigger, stronger, leaner, faster or more ripped than good old fashioned hard work. A lot of these supplements you chug down could have drastic long-term effects on your health, so don’t get caught up in all the hype. Always do your own research, and stay as natural as possible.

Pre workout – the mysterious drink made up of caffeine and some other mysterious ingredients that increases blood flow around the body, increases heart rate and sometimes even makes your skin itch and/or tingle! Can’t be that good for you if you ask us.

Our favourite pre workout drink (or pre anything really) is a hot cup of black coffee. When consumed before an exercise session, coffee promotes increased burning of fat cells, improves focus, metabolism, and energy. So save your money and drink coffee.

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REMEMBERING SERU RABENI A TRIBUTE RANDALL KAMEA AND LEICESTER TIGERS This month we’d like to pay tribute to a dear friend and fan favourite. One of the nicest men in rugby, the ever smiling, Seru Rabeni. I first met Seru when on tour with the Fiji 7’s team in London, 2010. Not long after that I was fortunate enough to play alongside him for the World XV against the Classic All Blacks, in Malaysia. Our paths would cross yet again, when I was perhaps not so fortunate to be playing against him in France – Seru for La Rochelle, and myself for Bourgoin-Jallieu. Seru was known for his big tackles and slick footwork, but perhaps even more famous for his ever-present ear to ear grin. The original smiling assassin. I remember sitting down for breakfast with him in Kuala Lumpur as he spoke passionately about his plans of finishing his masters, and improving education in his home village of Nasolo, in Vanua Levu. Seru told me he wanted to improve the quality of life of his people, and to do that, education was the key. If he could help a few kids go on to be successful doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. the success would trickle down as they went back to the village and further raised the standard of living and education. Enough to encourage more kids to do the same. Eventually each generation would do their best to give the next generation better opportunities and living standards, all through one mans dream of a better education for one and all. It’s something I’ve always remembered, even more so after his passing. The bigger purpose of it has encouraged me throughout my degree, and as I near the end of it, has me thinking about what change I can effect back home. More than anything I’d like to keep Seru’s dream alive and help kids in Fiji reach

their goals, improve their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. Last year, the Seru Rabeni memorial kindergarten opened it’s doors in his home village. A huge step towards his dream and a testament to the man that he was, that even after his passing, his dream has lived on by virtue of all the lives he so deeply touched. As part of our tribute to Seru, we’re extremely grateful to Gary Sherrard and Leicester Tigers for the images of Seru and allowing us to share their tribute Remembering Rabeni Geordan Murphy, the current Tigers head coach, is joined by fellow former team mates of Seru Rabeni, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi, as well as Leicester legend Dusty Hare, who was the club’s Chief Scout during the Fiji international’s five seasons in the East Midlands, at Oval Park on the first day back at training after the Christmas break to remember their former colleague and friend. Seru Rabeni would have been 40 today. Seems crazy, right? Just 40 years old. Born in 1978, the same year as Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy, the Fijian spent five seasons at Welford Road and quickly became a favourite among fans and team mates for his tireless efforts on the pitch and energetic, positive influence off it. A powerful, entertaining and exciting player to watch, Rabeni wreaked havoc on opposition sides in the midfield and on the wings for Leicester in his time at Tigers and on 39 occasions for Fiji, none more memorable than his incredible performance in the historic win over Wales at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

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“He was just such a great guy to be with, wherever you were.” Once he retired he qualified as a teacher and spent the majority of his time giving back to his native Fiji and working towards alleviating poverty on his home island of Vanua Levu. However, tragedy struck in March 2016 as the rugby world was shocked when news broke that Rabeni had passed away, aged just 37. The ever present smile of Seru would be seen no more. His infectious, positive impact over those in his presence was taken far, far too soon. “He would walk in to a room and brighten it up, straight away with his smile and his laughter,” says Ben Youngs. A common theme for anybody recalling tales of their time with him was the wide grin of the Pacific Islander, with former team mate and now Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy adding: “He was a funny, funny man and always happy, always smiling.” “His personality off the pitch was the way he played on it, always smiling and giving everything he had for his team mates.” One man his influence remains with still to this day is Manu Tuilagi, who was a member of the Tigers Academy during Rabeni’s days in Leicester and says he looked up to Seru when making his way through the ranks. “I definitely tried to learn from him, he had it all and I looked up to him,” Tuilagi says. “He had the feet, the power, the skills, he just had it all.” In addition to the grin he had plastered across his face from sunrise to sunset, Rabeni’s on-field efforts are what those who played and trained alongside him remember as being his biggest asset. “His personality off the pitch was the way he played on it, always smiling and giving everything he had for his team mates,” says Youngs. Dusty Hare, a Tiger through and through, says it was more than just the effort he put in but also the way he took to the culture of the club while in Leicester that made him special.

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“He just gave it his all on the pitch and I think that’s why the supporters and his team mates loved him so much, because he gave it all for Tigers,” said Hare. “Any player, local or from abroad, who gets involved with what the Tigers DNA is going to be a favourite of the fans and among their team mates, which Seru did. “He gave everything to and for the club while he was here.” His Fijian accent would echo throughout the Welford Road stands, especially when

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he was on the wing, and - according to Murphy - there no phrase more commonly used by Rabeni than the four word, straight to the point one he would repeat over and over and over again. “I don’t think there wasn’t a game that he was on the wing and I was at fullback when he wouldn’t have spent most of the game saying ‘give me the ball, give me the ball’ anytime I caught it,” Murphy says with a smile. “That’s all he ever said on the pitch!”

adds Tuilagi, laughing after recalling the Rabeni phrase. “He would just yell ‘give me the ball’ about five or six times at once on the pitch.” Rabeni moved to Leeds Carnegie for a season after his time in Leicester before finishing his career in France, where he played for three years, at the end of the 2013 season and, looking back, Tuilagi didn’t hesitate when asked if the Fijian ended his playing days with “legend”


2 LINES WORDS GOES HERE status. “Of course, he was a legend,” says Tuilagi. “He was such a legend. “His feet were amazing, it was crazy what he could do and how he could step someone in no space at all and he was so hard. “People who watched him will know and remember how hard he was,” added the England and British Lions back.

However, for all the skill and talent, it is Seru ‘the person’ that is missed more than ‘the player’ so many enjoyed seeing in action. Not a single negative word can be said about him, with traits many could only dream of being described with being used over and over again when looking back on Rabeni’s life.

so funny.” “He was just such a great guy to be with, wherever you were,” adds Hare. “That was Seru.” So it seems. Rest in peace, Seru Rabeni.

“He was very humble, very respectful and so, so funny,” Tuilagi says, followed by a deep breath, before adding: “Just so,

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HOT SHOT

In the footsteps of Rabeni, Young Gun Jale Vatubua. Source: AFP

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POLICE ARREST TABADAMU AT LAWAQA PARK CULDEN KAMEA Police won the 2019 MacDonald’s Coral Coast 7s title at a water-logged Lawaqa Park on Saturday 19 January, after beating Tabadamu 17 nil in the final. It was a record fourth Coral Coast 7s title for Police who also won in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Rain was the overwhelming factor in the tournament; in fact the organisers were lucky to get away with some of the games played in atrocious conditions, with large sections of the Lawaqa Park playing field under several inches of water over the three days of the event. Despite the rain, the local teams played with typical Fijian flair and gay abandon, running, passing and offloading at high speed, as if playing on a dry pitch and in brilliant sunshine when the standard procedure for wet weather rugby would have been to kick for position and trust your defence to turnover ball or win a penalty. Not on your life in the rugby capitol of Fiji. Every team chose to run the ball at every given opportunity, especially when pinned down on their own goal line, when a high or long kick would have more quickly and easily relieved pressure. Maybe the players all just wanted to impress tournament chief guest and former speedster himself, Bryan Habana. Maybe he brought all the rain? Who knows? In the final, red hot Tabadamu simply lacked possession and spent most of the first half wallowing in the mud and water in their 22M zone, chasing down Police as the patrolmen directed traffic on their way to two tries and a 10 nil halftime

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lead. When Police scored first after the break it was all over for Tabadamu and the game deteriorated from there as players on both sides were frustrated by the rain and poor conditions underfoot. For Police, Filipe Sauturaga and Kuricuva Matai were outstanding individually, but it was their total team effort in very difficult playing conditions that was the difference in the end. Fan favourites and 2017 Coral Coast 7s champions, First Light Taveuni narrowly lost to Ratu Filise, led by Amenoni Nasilasila 12 – 17 in a game which could have gone either way, especially given the very wet and slippery conditions. Dratabu from Nadi featured Rio Olympic Games rugby 7s gold medalists, Vatemo Ravouvou and Samisoni Viriviri in their backline, but a standout for them was high-stepping flyer with the famous Nadi rugby surname, Varo who showed great pace and hands on the Wing throughout the 2019 MacDonald’s Coral Coast 7s to scorch home for some spectacular tries in the wet. No doubt, Fiji 7s Head Coach, Gareth Baber, who was on hand at the tournament on Saturday would have been happy none of his wider training squad players picked up injuries and the pipeline feeding fresh young talent to his squad at the top of the pyramid is flowing nicely if a bit wet, thanks to founding Chairman Jay White and his organizing team of the 2019 MacDonald’s Coral Coast 7s. Police Team Joni Tanoa, Keponi Paul, Suliano Volivolituevei, Necani Nawaqadau,

Watisoni Sevutia, Livai Ikanikoda, Kitione Taliga, Mosese Baravilala, Kuricuva Matai, Filipe Sauturaga, Meli Kurisaru and Epeli Vaka. Results Cup Finals: Police 17 – 0 Tabadamu Cup Semifinals: Tabadamu 7 – 5 Ratu Filise Police 22 – 7 Australian Development Cup Quarterfinals: Sigatoka River Safari Henibua 5 – 17 Australian Development Tabadamu 26 – 7 Stars USA First Light Taveuni 12 – 17 Ratu Filise Police 12 – 7 Coastal Brothers Plate Final: Sigatoka River Safari Henibua 10 – 15 First Light Taveuni Bowl Final: Dratabu 10 – 17 NFA Shield Final: BLK 17 – 15 Suva Stallions


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Police on attack against Coastal Brothers.

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SILVERWATERS TABADAMU 7s KICK-STARTS 2019 SATISH NARAIN After evading the expected wrath of TC Mona, a low pressure system with heavy rain bands circled the Fiji Islands, but the inaugural Silverwaters Tabadamu 7s continued on regardless at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori.

seal the win.

IN fact, Fiji Airways Fiji Men’s 7s Coach, Gareth Baber who watched the finals action on day two, commented, “Fijians can play in any condition, rain or mud and they’ll still play good rugby.”

Tabadamu, champions from last December’s Raka 7s tournament vs Police, champions of the Coral Coast tournament. Tabadamu coach, Leo Naikasau Senior employed the perfect game plan to suit the conditions and his players executed, taking the lawmen to task from the opening whistle.

It was a brilliant Saturday spent in Nausori, after I took a slow drive from Suva to Nausori – good memories of the past returned afresh; of the old days of Nausori and Dreketi tournaments which used to see stadiums in Nausori packed to the rafters as mostly Eastern division teams from the villages emerged to try and take on the powerhouses of local sevens rugby. While Baber decided to wrap his national players in cotton wool with Hamilton just a fortnight away, the spice in the battle for the main prize came from local heavyweights - Police, Wardens, Army playing as Land Force Battalion and hosts Tabadamu. There were some close calls in the top eight – Tabadamu Blues battled hard to beat Niurua Delta Uprising 17-12, Land Force Battallion knuckled past National Fire Authority 10-5, Wardens powered past Nakelo 22-5 while Police overcame Uluinakau 12-5. The pick of the lot was the second semifinal which Police won 5-0 against the Wardens. It was a tight affair with tactics pushed for change after a downpour made underfoot conditions very heavy. Police needed an individual piece of brilliance from Meli Kurisaru to

The final was a tit-for-tat affair – the battle of the champions! What a way to open the curtains for sevens at home in the New Year.

Tabadamu had a formidable side with power up front from Leo Naikasau Junior and the ruggedness of former Police player, Manueli Laqai. The halves pair of Danielle Tabuakuru and Luke Lutunavanua stood firm and delivered against the experience Livai Ikanikoda and Olympic gold medalist, Kitione Taliga.

Vota was strong in his carries going forward and he put in solid tackles in defence. He made his Fiji 7s debut in Dubai 2018 and showed that he has the potential to be a key man in our rugby 7s campaign for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. A solid sevens calendar for our local clubs needs to be formulated to provide a better pathway for our local sevens boys. Currently only the Coral Coast 7s, Marist 7s and Nawaka 7s tournaments stand above the rest in the unofficial local sevens season but it’s about time every weekend in January to March is penned for a tournament. This will give Coach Baber the chance to scout for players more easily and also increase the depth in our national wider squad.

Ball in hand and powering through proved futile but a chip over the defence produced the first try with the in-goal referee having a big say in the final decision. Police wasted opportunities and found it hard to penetrate the staunch Tabadamu defence in the second half. They conceded the second try as another deep kick saw them beaten as claimed by the in goal referee – Yet Again. In the rain and tough conditions, Beniamino Vota stood out. He was used as an impact player for Tabadamu and his injection produced wonders. He scored two tries in the semifinal in the second half to rescue his side who trailed 7-0 at the turnaround.

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Come rain or sun, only in Fiji.

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HOT SHOT

Bula to my Fiji Fans! Kurt Baker. Source: World Rugby


SIBERIA BOY CULDEN KAMEA

NAKASI GIRL: As the bright red Toyota Prius cruised by, the music of Jai Ho from the movie Slumdog Millionaire came blasting out at top volume with base thumping. It was the red turban Sikh, Jiten Singh, Fathers name Baljeet Singh. The Prius came to an abrupt stop and backed up. “Kai se baby! Whats up?” he called out, leaning across to the front passenger window, sunglasses slipping down his slippery beak of a nose. “It is so nice to see you”, he added since I had not bothered to answer his first question and kept walking. “I am originally from Mumbai, but occasionally from Siberia, Labasa!” He said louder. I burst out laughing, did he really say that to impress me? “Are you from Labasa?” He asked a second question. “Cane crushing season must be over hah na?” “What? Are you serious”, I leered at him. SIBERIA BOY: Anyway, I was driving by and I saw this really foxy baby hah na? So I pulled over and in you know a very casual and unassuming manner said like this in my best Bollywood movie accent “Hi Baby! You must be from Bollywood?” “You look absolutely smashing. You absolutely smash my mind baby! Can I buy you a G&T, shaken not stirred?” I could tell immediately that she liked gulab jamun so I said, “Would you also like to try some local Indian delicacies?”

lot but then a wild bee flew inside my car and right into my face and I had to fight it off with my bare fists you know and when I looked up she was gone vanished into thin air like in a Bollywood film. How did I let this Princess slip away?

cool man maybe she was running a little late or was in the wash room doing up her hair and putting on some perfume. I took a seat facing the main entrance and ordered a glass of water. The waiter gave me a dirty look but I knew he was jealous.

NAKASI GIRL: A few days later I was sitting outside the Kava Café in downtown Suva having a couple of bowls when my mobile rang; it was an unknown number. “Hi Baby its me Jiten Singh you know with the red Ferrari?” I was like ready to cut him off but curiosity got the better of me.

11.30am still no Renu so I ordered the cheapest coffee they had which was a short black. “Make it strong”, I said just to be fancy to the waiter. Man it was a strong brew, almost like drinking diesel. Ten minutes later I could see her walking towards the Café and then I felt it.

“How did you get my mobile number?” Easy a mutual friend gave it to me after I told them about how you threw mud in my face”. I giggled and he continued, “I had swollen eyes for 3 days and could not see. My Mum had to take me to the CWM eye clinic for treatment, I am blind now”. What? I felt so bad. “Sorry” I offered, “I did not mean to hurt you”. Then I realised, how did he dial my number? Before I could say anything he said, “It’s okay I can see a bit more every day. Can we meet for coffee tomorrow?” I felt bad to say no so I said yes and we agreed to meet.

NAKASI GIRL: I quickly bent over scooped up some dirt in my hand and threw it at him through the passenger window. It hit him smack bang in the face sending his sunglasses flying as he sneezed and coughed up the dirt and had to wipe it from his eyes. Meanwhile I crossed the road.

SIBERIA BOY: Man it was so easy to hook her up for a date. I just called Renu up and we are meeting at 11am this morning at The Ginger Café at Suva Museum you know nice and quiet so we can have some privacy. I wanted to meet in town but she chose this place so I am washing my car. I cruised into Thurston Gardens right on 11pm GMT as broadcast by the BBC. My Ferrari was sparkling red in the morning sun and it smelled good too thanks to the air freshener from our toilet at home. I checked my hair, set. Slipped my sunglasses on and stepped out real cool.

SIBERIA BOY: Man I knew she liked me a

She was nowhere to be seen. I acted

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It was a flutter but not in my heart! There it was again, not a flutter but more like a fart, just as she walked through the main entrance strikingly gorgeous, her long black hair flashing in the wind. She was intoxicating but this time it was a real flutter. I squeezed tight. NAKASI GIRL: I was running late as usual, half hoping he would not be there so that I could take off, but I noticed the red Prius and put on my best fake smile as I entered The Ginger Café. Jiten had a funny look on his face, almost in shock, panic, pain or all the above. As I approached he sort of jumped up which I thought was very gentlemanly of him, but he shuffled to one side still facing me and blurted, “I will be back” and hurried off in an odd sort of street shuffle before he broke into a sprint towards the back end of the wide front deck. SIBERIA BOY: Man I had to go, it was a flutter alright. I jumped up and skirted past my darling Renu, not to mention she gave me a puzzled look. Anyway I made a dash for the toilet. Lucky I had seen it earlier, bashed my way in and slammed it shut dropping my jeans in record time. I just managed to slump down onto the seat before the flutter turned into a volcanic eruption. Whew what a relief,


sweat poured off me as I caught my breath. Thank goodness I was a natural born sprinter with speed to burn. Hey then I noticed something missing. Damn more sweat. There was no toilet paper! What? No way! I looked up and down sideways and behind me. NO TOILET PAPER! Oh my God! Oh my goodness. How can this be? I looked all around again. Oh no this cannot be real, Renu is barely 20 Metres from me on our first date. I slapped my face hard. Please God wake me up from this nightmare I prayed then opened my eyes one at a time. Oh no, I was still in the Fiji Museum toilet without toilet paper. There was not even any newspaper handy. I started crying quietly to myself. Then I had a brainwave. I reached down around my ankles and took my handkerchief out of my jeans pocket. It was specially scented with my sisters favourite French perfume the same one as Kim Kardashian. Well at least it smelled nice. I had no choice, there was no other way.

NAKASI GIRL: I could not understand where Jiten had disappeared to, it was now approaching 15 minutes since I arrived at the Ginger Café and he sprinted off in what looked like mild desperation, what could have happened? Where could he be? He said he would be back. I decided to have a freshly squeezed cumquat juice and asked the waiter to put it on Jiten’s tab. He said, “You sure he has got money and giggled. Your friend rushed off to the toilet you know”, he added. I shrugged none of my business really and walked off through Thurston Gardens. SIBERIA BOY Thankfully there was a can of air freshener in the toilet, so I sprayed it all over my clothes and hair like the Lynx body guy on TV. Man I smelled good, okay set, I slowly opened the door and stepped out. Where is my darling Renu? Just in case you are wondering, I flushed my dear handkerchief down the toilet after using it. I hope it does not block their toilet drainage system. Lucky I had that brainwave. There was no Renu. I had only been 4 or 5 minutes, where was she.

The waiter signalled me over. “Bro she left a tab for you”, he said smiling and showing me the bill which I had no choice but to pay. “Do you know where she is”, I asked? “She just left he said, but she left a message, She said for you to meet her at Damodar City for the movie Fifty Shades Freed at 12.30pm today”. “Thanks bro” I said and gave the waiter a generous $2 tip, what a nice guy. “Hey I will be back” I said and rushed off. “Set bro” he said. I jumped into my car, no time to get changed, only 5 minutes to make it to the movie. Fifty Shades Free, man that is a mind blowing blue movie. Some of my Siberia male friends from Labasa had already gone to see it and they said it was something else like R21 restricted to Adults only man so heavy. What was Renu hinting at picking such a movie for our extended date? Oh man I sprayed myself again. Lucky I had called work to say I would be late today so now I could spend more time at this movie with my date. Set man. I parked and went in but Renu was

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nowhere to be seen. Maybe she went in already because she did not want to be seen standing around outside Fifty Shades Free. I purchased one ticket and went in. The movie had started and it was dark. I peered into the darkness and slowly could make out some shapes. I walked towards the back of the cinema surely that’s where she would be seated waiting for me. “Renu” I whispered, “Renu” I called out. NAKASI GIRL What an idiot that guy is rushing off just as I arrived. I knew it, Jiten was running scared. Anyway I had kept my side of the bargain and turned up at least. I walked out of Thurston Gardens caught a Nasese bus to the bus stand and another bus home sweet home. SIBERIA BOY A couple of heads turned my way but I could not really tell who they were. I felt my way past a couple of people seated in the last row and squeezed into an empty seat. There was

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a very hot sex scene going on now on the big screen with surround sound. “Renu”, I called again leaning forward nearer to the person in front of me. The person turned back with beads of sweat running down his face, “Shhhh” he said to me. What? I saw his face as the screen lit up and he saw mine! “Jiten” he screamed in shock. It was my boss Siti. - To be continued Please note that “Siberia Boy” is purely a figment of my imagination. Culden Kamea If you would like to receive more short stories like “Siberia Boy” directly on your mobile phone simply text JOIN STORY to 7002. Terms and Conditions: Only 18c per text available to Vodafone (Prepay & Postpay) and Inkk Mobile users. Call Customer Care

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THE LAST WORD ANARE FREDERICK RAIWALUI This is NOT Fred at the Hong Kong 7s, or is it?

The Last Word is a great column written by a fan on a topic of their choice. This issue, Anare Frederick Raiwalui from Nadi, expresses his views as a long time Wallabies fan. Fred is a self proclaimed couch critic of anything and everything sports, and a very avid writer. For more of his ramblings check out his blog: www. theblindchameleon.worpress.com Nemani Nadolo is everything that is wrong with the Wallabies! The Wallabies are in trouble, folks! Now, I’m aware that here’s nothing new about this information - they’ve been in a hole for a while now and only seem to be digging themselves deeper. But why? How did things ever get this bad for the Green and Gold? Before we explore one of the many, MANY possible reasons behind why Australia is currently sitting at its lowest ever world rugby ranking, let me first state that I am a very proud Wallabies tragic. The remaining few of a dying breed, even. I guess growing up in the islands, it’s normal that most people support the home team first and then, mostly by default, either the All Blacks or the Wallabies as their second choice. And why not? Those two teams have poached enough pacific island talent, over the years, to man a large Middle-Eastern oil rig. I have always said that there is a distinct difference between a supporter and a fan. Where a supporter will show the occasional interest and not let losses ruin their day, fans set 3am alarms during the autumn test series and wear the losses on their sleeve until the boys run out to do battle again the following week. I am of the latter breed - a true fanatic. A fine example; close to five

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years ago, in the first match of the 2014 Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup series, the Wallabies came back from a six point halftime deficit (9-3) in Sydney, to level the score at the death (12-12) and end a 17-match winning streak by the All Blacks. I was ecstatic - I mean, wins against the AB’s are so few and far between that a draw was considered a tick in “W” column of the ledger. Completely convinced that the curse of Eden Park would be lifted the following weekend, and that the Bledisloe Cup drought would finally come to an end, I jumped on a plane and followed the Men In Gold to the Auckland fortress, just to be a present part of history. Boy was I mistaken! My dear Wallabies were hammered 52-20 that day. I came home with my tail between my legs. So how did we get here? What happened to the good old days when the transTasman contest was an actual contest?! The days when every venture to the north had the air of a potential grand

slam. The golden years! We could talk about how the union itself is dire need of an overhaul. Or we could talk about how the Australian coaching setup has the innate ability to coach the flair right out of the players. We could even talk about the fact that Michael Cheika is still employed despite losing 9 of the last 13 tests. (Ouch!) But, as many problems as the Australian Rugby Union have, I’ve always maintained that the heart of the matter is quite simple; talent. Australian talent pools of rugby union players have steadily been dwindling over the past decade. The Land Down Under seems to have fallen out of love with the game they play in heaven. And it’s showing. In 2017, research commissioned on the top 20 sports for Australian children, showed that rugby union featured 18th for children aged 14 and over in terms of participation – behind volleyball, horseriding, netball, tennis and football. Last year, more kids signed up for ballet and chess, in schools, than they did for our sport. And at club level, there was

The Wallabies after another loss. Source Sporting News


a 7.6% reduction in the overall number of players. Essentially, what that means is that a bit over 7,000 people just don’t want to play rugby anymore. And that brings me to my point - if good talent has been so hard to come by for a while, why in the world would you let a natural born rugby superstar get away from right under your nose? Nemani Nadolo was just 3 months old when his family moved to Australia. Yes he is a full-blooded Fijian. But, he is also, by all accounts, a true blue Aussie. And don’t get me wrong, as first and foremostly a Flying Fijians fan, I love that we have this 6’5”, 130KG juggernaut in our arsenal, but man did the ARU drop the ball with this guy. His record speaks for itself; for Randwick in 2008 he scored 13 tries in his first 7 matches. He was selected for the Australian U-20 side to the Junior World Cup in that same year, where he continued to wreak havoc for defenses seven tries in five matches. Tournament top try scorer! Being one of the finds of 2008, the NSW Waratahs signed Nadolo for the 2009 Super Rugby season and then in what can only be described as a plot twist, decided to stick him in their development squad, paying no mind to the whispers in the rugby fraternity that “this kid could be the next Jonah Lomu.” A year later, after no real interest from the ARU, Nadolo left Australia to ply his trade in Europe and Japan for a few years. He would never again be employed by the Australian Rugby Union...much to their regret, I’m sure. Four years later Nemani Nadolo returned to Super Rugby, this time in a Canterbury Crusaders jersey. Scoring a try in the semis and again in the final, he finished the 2014 season in familiar territory; as tournament top try scorer. He shared the honour with NSW Waratahs (and Wallabies) fullback Israel Folau who had defected from the Australian Football League to rugby union just a year prior. In hindsight, thinking about the ‘Tahs hoisting the trophy that night, I can’t help but wonder how different the recent Wallabies landscape would look if the ARU had been able to recognize and invest just a little bit of faith in some real talent. Nemani Nadolo is one man. How many others have slipped through the system?

He will be missed - Nemani Nadolo. Source: AFP

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Profile for Teivovo Rugby

Teivovo Rugby Magazine issue 67  

Teivovo Rugby is a Fijian Rugby magazine bringing you everything "Fiji Rugby" both locally and internationally in 7s and 15s.

Teivovo Rugby Magazine issue 67  

Teivovo Rugby is a Fijian Rugby magazine bringing you everything "Fiji Rugby" both locally and internationally in 7s and 15s.