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FOCUS: Rugby Star Reinforces Fijian Links

Timoci Matanavou is living the high life but remembers his Fijian roots when in Toulouse, France. The younger brother of rugby superstar Sireli Bobo is carving out his own professional
24 Dec 2014 10:18
FOCUS: Rugby Star Reinforces Fijian Links

Timoci Matanavou is living the high life but remembers his Fijian roots when in Toulouse, France.

The younger brother of rugby superstar Sireli Bobo is carving out his own professional rugby niche at arguably France’s biggest rugby club, paving the way for a financial windfall, like few ruggers have ever seen.

Matanavou is a local hero in Toulouse, France, as a group of Fijian journalists found out recently.   The Flying Fijian rugby winger’s evasive skills weren’t much use when walking around the city with his fellow Fijians. Residents pointed him out, many walked up to shake his hand.

A barber refused his money for cutting his hair and a bar owner insisted that he help himself to as much alcohol as he wanted without any payment. It’s amazing he’s been able to stay at the top of his game with this much attention.

The group of journos, including Fiji Sun’s managing editor news Jyoti Pratibha were in Toulouse to accompany Fiji Link’s new ATR 72-600 back to its new home in the islands. They were struck with Matanavou’s humility and his hospitality, true-Fijian style.

He even insisted on checking into the hotel to be close to his fellow Fijians for late night talanoa sessions.

The Ra native has played for Stade Toulouse, the 107-year-old French rugby club, steeped his history and tradition, since 2011.

Earlier stints with French clubs Mount-de-Marsan in the 2008-2009 Top 14 season and Stade Montois from 2010-2011, have helped him adapt to French culture.

Since then he’s mastered the language and embraced local French culture and cuisine.

The Fijian media group also included Vijay Narayan, news director with Communications Fiji Limited (CFL), Apisalome Rabo of Fiji Television, Shayal Devi of Fiji Times and Jessan Doton of Fiji Airways (ex-Fiji Sun).

Matanavou seemed to enjoy having Fijians over in ‘his city’ and showing them the sights and sounds of the rugby-mad area.

His efforts are beginning to rake in the cash and he’s smart enough to invest in property.

Calculations on his net worth that include his four properties in Fiji’s Western Division now border on the three-million dollar mark. His latest property purchase in Lautoka cost an estimated $F550,000.

With the amount of money’s he’s earning at the moment, we wouldn’t be surprised if just rocked up to the real estate company and paid cash.

Not bad for the former Drasa Avenue School student. His professional rugby contract expires in 2017. However, its likely that the Stade Toulouse Club will extend it to 2020, if Matanavou remains fighting-fit.

The road to rugby stardom is littered with shattered careers of young Fijians who wasted money and their talents. Matanavou seems to have taken a more frugal approach and refuses to end up as another statistic on the failed careers chart .

Budding Fijian rugby prospects for the French scene would do well to learn from Matanavou, who remains well-grounded and amiable.

If anything, Matanavou is already planning for life after retirement from the game he loves.

While Europe has it’s attractions, his property investment shows his heart still remains in Fiji.

 

Feedback: josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 

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