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Toppling France New Start

Politics and other nonsense affect us, but you put 23 passionate village kids together (and) we can conquer the world- Nemani Nadolo They  are only humans-Leone Nakarawa There is a
01 Dec 2018 10:00
Toppling France New Start
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians lock forward Leone Nakarawa during the cibi against France in Paris on November 25, 2018. Photo: Planet Rugby

Politics and other nonsense affect us, but you put 23 passionate village kids together (and) we can conquer the world- Nemani Nadolo

They  are only humans-Leone Nakarawa

There is a new era dawning on Fijian rugby and tier one teams should take note.

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians’ 21-14 triumph over France in Paris at the Stade de France was historic and rare for two reasons.

Firstly, tier two nations normally struggle to compete against Tier-1 sides – Fiji’s win against France was its first in 10 attempts.

The struggles of successive Fijian teams were put to rest in Paris.

Tries from Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova coupled with a professional Ben Volavola kicking display helped Fiji to a massive upset win.

Injured winger Nemani Nadolo summarised the win on his Twitter account.

“The lads who played tonight for Fiji for next to nothing against a team full of riches and won is something we Tier-2 nations can (only) dream of,” Nadolo wrote.

“Yes, politics and other nonsense affect us, but you put 23 passionate village kids together (and) we can conquer the world.”

Second, the Flying Fijians beat France in France, becoming only the third team this year to do so. They joined second-ranked Ireland and fifth-ranked South Africa.

The win helped Fiji climb to the eighth position in the World Rugby rankings, the team’s highest ever placing.

This leaves John McKee’s team only two places behind Australia, their Pool D opponents at next year’s World Cup in Japan.

McKee’s decision to set up the team around a strong defensive unit was vindicated when Fiji successfully resisted a strong French onslaught in the dying moments of the game.

The team’s defensive efforts were a sign of its spirit and stamina, something the coach will be proud of.

During one late French scrum, Leone Nakarawa is heard urging newcomer Mesulame Dolokoto to stand his ground.

“They (the French players) are only humans,” Nakarawa is heard yelling through the cameras.

Including eight players from the victorious Fiji Airways Fijian Drua side was also a key McKee decision that paid dividends.

Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokani, the lynchpins of the Drua side, are future stars of the world game.

Veitokani’s recent form has increased competition for the No. 10 jersey in the squad, which has driven Volavola to improve his own game.

Nakarawa’s performance was also eye-catching.

The lanky forward, who is sometimes guilty of disappearing during matches, was imposing throughout the full 80 minutes.

After breaking into the top 8, there can be no drop in standards with the World Cup months away and a busy July-August schedule ahead in 2019.

The hectic schedule includes seven test matches over 10 weeks, including a match against the New Zealand Maori and the Pacific Nations series.

One win does not make the Flying Fijians a champion side. Toppling France, however, has provided the perfect platform to build on ahead of the World Cup.

-Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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