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FRU Deserves Praise For Honouring Serevi

A big vinaka vakalevu to the Fiji Rugby Union for honouring our sevens maestro, Waisale Serevi, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fiji Rugby Awards Night. It was an emotional
16 Jan 2017 11:53
FRU Deserves Praise For Honouring Serevi
Waisale SerevI (Left)

A big vinaka vakalevu to the Fiji Rugby Union for honouring our sevens maestro, Waisale Serevi, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fiji Rugby Awards Night.

It was an emotional moment for the many that were at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay Entertainment Centre, when they watched video footage of Fiji’s triumph. This was from the 1990- 1992 Hong Kong 7s and also during the 1997 and 2005 Rugby World Cup 7s wins where Serevi led our national 7s team and took our nation to the top of the world.

FRU chairman, Francis Kean, admitted on Saturday night, that tears had welled in his eyes when the event organisers showed him the footage on Friday afternoon.

Serevi not only made the nation proud but took sevens rugby to a higher level. It was through his persistence for sevens rugby to be played at the Olympics, that he was able to convince the then IRB chairman, Bernard Lapasset. They (together with the late New Zealand All Blacks legendary winger Jonah Lomu) lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In 2012, the IOC endorsed sevens rugby as an Olympic sport and for the first time it was played at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we won our first gold medal.

Serevi also excelled in fifteens rugby and was part of many of our memorable Test wins. How would you forget his four conversions and a penalty, when Fiji beat Scotland 51-26 for the first time in a Test match at the National Stadium, Suva on May 26, 1998. He played 39 Test matches during his career.

Serevi went on to play for Mitsubishi in Japan, Leicester Tigers and Staines in England before he moved across to France to don Stade Montois and Stade Bordelais colours.

Despite, being far away from home, this Qarani native from Gau always availed himself for national duties. At times, he had to pay his airfares to fly from either France or England to attend the national trials in Suva.

Serevi’s success continued on even when he took-up coaching. He coached our Vodafone Fijian 7s team to win the 2005/6 World Sevens Series for the first time.

That year, Serevi was offered a lucrative backline coaching job with a South African club. The offer was more than what he had received at FRU but the maestro turned it down and instead renewed his contract for coaching Fijians.

This simply shows how much Fiji meant to Serevi. Despite his sporting success, life also had been harsh on him. It was Serevi’s strong spiritual upbringing and based on his favourite Biblical verse, Philippians 4: 13 that enabled him to take on these challenges and be a step ahead of his so-called perpetrators.

When it came to the worst, Serevi never gave up but instead stood up and took action.

He flew to Canada to search for a new beginning. He even walked from Canada to America, with a plastic bag that had his rugby boots and toiletries.

Serevi was able to cross the border into the US where he was able to find what he had been looking for.

Today, he is a proud ambassador of sevens rugby and has been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.

Despite Serevi’s past differences with some administrators, today’s FRU should be commended for acknowledging Serevi’s contribution.

This is a positive step forward as reforms are also put in place with the motive to steer Fiji Rugby forward.

 

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