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Serevi: Win For Fiji

Serevi: Win For Fiji
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s forward and Olympian Jasa Veremalua makes a tackle while Josua Tuisova closes in during their warm-up match at the Vineyard, Utah Valley University on July 7, 2018. Photo: Utah Valley University
July 10
10:11 2018

Maestro tells what made them tick in 1997 and 2005 when they won the Rugby World Cup Sevens

 

The man who guided  Fiji to win the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1997 and 2005 believes that hoisting the Melrose Cup means a lot to our people.

Maestro Waisale Serevi said Fijians have defied all odds stacked against them to win the tournament in 1997.

“It was in Hong Kong and we were like school children coming in with our little bags while the other teams had bigger bags,” he told World Rugby.

“But in the end we won the World Cup. I remember while we were warming up I saw a fan holding a banner that said, ‘Take it home, Fiji’.

“I pointed it out to the boys and motivated them. I told them ‘play every game just like it’s the last game of our life’,” he said.

What made the win special, Serevi says, was that they beat a strong South African side 24-21 in the Cup final.

“South Africa had just won the fifteens Rugby World Cup in 1995 and they brought in all their top players like Bobby Skinstad, Pieter Rossouw, Joost van der Westhuizen, Andre Venter, Jacques Oliver and Breyton Paulse.

“They scored two tries in the first half and I told the boys that we needed to get the ball and we were able to do that and go on to win. After the final I told Joost van der Westhuizen that they are the fifteens world champions while we are the sevens world champions.”

At the end of the tournament, Serevi scored the most points with 117 while Marika Vunibaka topped the try scoring list with 12.

The side was coached by the late Rupeni Ravonu with players like Jope Tuikabe, Aminiasi Naituyaga, Manasa Bari, Lemeki Koroi, Luke Erenavula, Taniela Qauqau, Leveni Duvuduvukula and Inoke Maraiwai.

 

VISION

For the 2005 tournament, Serevi indicated that while on the plane to Hong Kong, he had a vision that he was carrying his son who was holding the cup.

“I called them (family) as they were in Fiji and told my wife to bring them over because I had seen something while in the plane,” he said laughingly.

The side had star players like Viliame Satala, Filimoni Delasau, Semisi Naevo, Ifereimi Rawaqa, Apolosi Satala, Marika Vunibaka, Sireli Bobo, Nasoni Roko, Neumi Nanuku and William Ryder.

They had a close call in the Cup semifinal against England but Serevi saved the day with a try on sudden death to seal the 21-14 win.

“Before we went out to play New Zealand in the Cup final, I told the boys that this was going to be the last time we will be playing together.

“What we have to do is to empty the tank- let’s give our all. And that was what we did to win the final and be world champions again. So for me I had to go to the sideline and pick up Junior (son) to receive the cup”

 

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

In their preparation for the Rugby World Cup Sevens on July 20-22, the Fijian community in Utah hosted the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team at the Utah Valley University yesterday.

Also the Fiji Airways Fijiana 7s (women) team are now in Denver, Colorado for their high altitude training.

Head coach Iliesa Tanivula also thanked supporters that awaited them in Los Angeles when they arrived.

He indicated that they are going to be in San Francisco next week to prepare for their opening game against Spain which is on Friday .

 

–  Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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