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EDITORIAL: Olympic Hope For Our Women

The Telecom Fijiana team depart tomorrow for the Oceania 7s Rugby Olympic qualifier in Auckland this weekend. They need to win it to be one of the remaining 6 teams
10 Nov 2015 08:08
EDITORIAL: Olympic Hope For Our Women
Telecom Fijiana team before departing Fiji Rugby Union yesterday. Photo: JUSTINE MANNAN

The Telecom Fijiana team depart tomorrow for the Oceania 7s Rugby Olympic qualifier in Auckland this weekend.

They need to win it to be one of the remaining 6 teams to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in August. New Zealand, Australia, Canada and England have already qualified for being the top four teams in the 2014-15 World Women’s Sevens Series.

Although they finished eighth overall in the series, our women have performed well so far on the world circuit. And they have made tremendous progress over the years since women’s competition was included in the annual Fiji Bitter Marist 7s. After a revival in 2007, Fijiana won the World Rugby-sanctioned Oceania 7s in Port Moresby and there was no looking back for our women from then on.

“That’s where it all started for us and we’ve been part of it all along,”Fiji Women Rugby Union interim president Vela Naucukidi said.

“But this weekend is the most important for us. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, taking part at Rio 2016 is a massive, historic occasion. We stand a good chance, can’t wait for another four years.”

Fijiana missed out taking part in the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Dubai in 2009, but they made the cut at the 2013 event in Moscow winning the Bowl final beating favourite Netherlands. They won the gold medal when women’s rugby was first introduced at the 2011 Pacific Games in Noumea and successfully defended it at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby in July. They will be playing the same teams Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands this weekend in Auckland.

“We won gold, but our women need to step up again,”Naucukidi said.

“This is our chance to shine on the Olympics stage.”

Rugby 7s is taking the sport to a whole new level and the shorter format of the game is a major factor in rugby’s development worldwide since the introduction of the World Sevens Series in 1996. Therefore it’s only fitting that it should be included in the world’s largest multi-sport event where Fiji has participated and never won a medal. But we have a good chance now. The Vodafone Fijian 7s team, golf former No.1 Vijay Singh and the Vodafone Fijian U23 football team have already qualified. The onus is on our women to join them this weekend.

It would not be easy and the toughest competition should come from Samoa who are already in New Zealand. Even though we played more on the World Women Sevens Series, we should not underestimate our island opponents.  We wish coach Chris Cracknell and our Telecom Fijian women the very best.

 

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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