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Fijians making impact

Fijians making impact
July 21
11:03 2017

Those who play rugby in Fiji know how difficult it is to break through to the national team, let alone to get the opportunity to play overseas.

For Deve Koyamaibole, Sailasa Baleidaveda, Jacob Veitarogi and Ilaitia Vuniwaqa they have been chosen for the Victoria Country club which is the feeder club to the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby.

In a small city on the Northern side of Victoria called Shepparton, Australia Football League (AFL) is the most popular sport leaving little to no room at all for any other sport to flourish.

But Matai Vakasisikakala and Jone Roqica are making waves with the Shepparton Bulls rugby team.

The team was formed three years ago by Vakasisikakala and had not gone past the third division in the Premier competition.

Last year, however, Vakasisikakala included four Fijian rugby players, two of which are from the Redrock 7s team. And since then Shepparton Bulls have not only reached the second division but will be playing the semifinals in the Premier division over the weekend.

Shepparton rugby team is under the Victoria Rugby Union (VRU) and the Melbourne Rebels.

The passion to improve rugby in Fiji and give our boys a chance to play the sport they love in another country is what drove Vakasisikakala to set up a rugby team and include Fijian players in it.

“In Shepparton, the number one sport is AFL and rugby is not very popular here so I set up this rugby team and wanted to give our local boys a chance to showcase their talent,” Vakasisikakala said.

“The team was not doing so well when we first started but now we have reached the furthest we have ever reached in this competition since the Fijian boys joined.

“I know how hard it is for our local boys at home to break into something good and make a career out of something they love playing.

“The journey for them has been amazing, the players are learning from each other and growing each day they train and play together.

“This is my way of giving back to the country, I want to continue helping our local rugby boys and help them move up in their career.

“Already, four of them have been picked for the Victoria Country team so I am really happy and excited about their achievement.”

Vakasisikakala will not only stop at men’s rugby but will be looking to set up a women’s rugby team next year and bring over Fijian girls to play in Australia as well.

The Shepparton Bulls rugby team now includes a total of nine Fijian boys in the team.

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