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Letters To The Editor, 08th July 2017

Letters To The Editor, 08th July 2017
July 08
09:19 2017

Flying Fijians in Tonga bring back best memories

Taitusi Sokiveta, Phoenix, Arizona

The Flying Fijians training at Liahona High School in Tonga brings back many memories while attending the only Mormon high school in those days in the South Pacific.

In 1972, I was aware that Fiji was going to tour Tonga in those days.

Back then they not only played in Nuku’alofa they also toured the outer islands like Vava’au, Ha’apai and they had three test matches at Teufaiva Park, Nuku’alofa.

It was a real tour much like what the British Lions are doing in New Zealand.

I remember the Fijian players coming to Liahona. I was so excited that I skipped classes that day and went back in their tour bus to Nuku’alofa which was 12 miles away. I only knew Tevita Rabuli who played centre and Pio Bosco Tikomaisuva. Tevita Rabuli attended Queen Victoria School and I attended Saraswati College.

In the late 60s we ran long distance from Buckhurst Park in Laucala Bay. The Fijian team lost once but won all their test matches and the rest of their tour.

Some say the Fijian team of 1972 which toured Tonga was the second best which toured after the undefeated touring team of New Zealand which had Joe Levula.

These are the names I remembered of that touring team:

Props: Jona Qoro, Nimilote Tuakitabua, Hooker: Atonio Racika, Locks: Ilaitia Tuisese, Jope Naucabalavu Jnr and Vuata Naresia, in Breakaways: Meli Kurisaru, Rupeni Qaraniqio, Enele Malele. Halfback: Isimeli Batibasaga, Taito Rauluni, in First Five Eight: Wame Gavidi, in Second Five Eight: Senitiki Nasave in Centre: Pio Bosco Tikoisuva, Tevita Rabuli and Sefanaia Basiyalo. Wings: Ravuama Latilevu and Vuniani Varo. Full Backs: Josaia Veisei and Lario Raitalava, at No. 8 was Epi Bolawaqatabu and Captain/Coach was Inoke Tabualevu.

In those days, the Tongans were famous for their late tackles and head butts. They got away with it because there were no video replays and the referee either missed it or plain ignored it. Ravuama, Latilevu, Nasave and Meli Kurisaru got hurt badly from these late tackles.

In one Test Match Tongan Captain Sione Mafi held on and hung onto Tuisese even after he had released the ball. He did not let go. Tuisese turned around and gave him one Mike Tyson shot and knocked him out. There was a big kaila from the Fijian students watching that Fijian team. To me it was the best I had ever seen of rugby in my life.

I have seen a lot on the internet but none comes closer.

I wish I had taped the game back then so people could watch them. They started at the goal line and everyone played backline until they scored on the other side.

Their execution was so perfect that I still talk about that team to this day during kava drinking sessions with other Fijians.

Liahona has had a lot of international teams training at their grounds.

At that time the most modern high school in Tonga was built by American engineers and construction workers. The Flying Fijians training  there now is not the first.

Joe Levula was the first in Teufaiva Park to carry the rugby ball from one scoreline to the other just like what Kitione Taliga did in the Las Vegas 2016 against Australia.

 

Jone Dakuvula

Gay Maxwell,  Sigatoka

It was good to read the letters from Timoci Gaunavinaka of Nausori, on June 2 and 9.

Vinaka vakalevu Timoci. It is good to see another like-minded Fijian.

Perhaps Jone Dakuvula should think intelligently before he complains. Then maybe he could live a peaceful and useful life.

 

What is it?

Raymond Kalyan Chandra,  Canada

Hundreds of people of European descent who had come to work in Fiji when Fiji was a colony of Great Britian did not want to leave Fiji when their contracts expired because they liked Fiji so much.

Thousands of people who were brought to Fiji as indentured labourers from India did not leave Fiji when their five-year agreements expired because they liked Fiji so much.

Thousands of foreigners who now come to Fiji as visitors every year wish they could live in Fiji permanently because they like Fiji so much.

What is it that makes people like Fiji so much? It must be something other than the beautiful smiles of the women of Fiji because I am now 90-years-old and I still like Fiji just as much as I liked Fiji when I was 18-years-young. What is it?

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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