Former Flying Fijians Bid Farewell To Fallen Star

Former Fijian 7s Rep Meli Rabonu tells how Manasa Qoro inspired them before going to Hong Kong in 1987
14 Feb 2019 10:00
Former Flying Fijians Bid Farewell To Fallen Star

Former Flying Fijians and Nadi rugby reps converged at Nawaka Village, Nadi yesterday to bid their last fare­well to their fallen team-mate Manasa Qoro.

Qoro, who was the first forward in the world to kick over a drop goal during an interna­tional Test match, passed away at his home last week.

Former national 7s rep and team- mate Meli Rabonu described Qoro as tough man of his era.

Rabonu told SUNsports that Qoro had initi­ated a war cry ‘Mate vata’ prior to the 1987 Hong Kong 7s where they reached the Cup final.

“That year we arrived at our camp at Des Voux Road in Suva,” Rabonu recalled.

“When we met we got together for some kava and then we were asked to come up with a war cry for the team to take to Hong Kong.

“Suddenly we heard a voice from behind say “Mate vata”. We all looked back and it was Manasa Qoro. “While we stared at him he retorted, ‘what’s wrong did I say anything wrong?’

Rabonu who was the youngest member of the squad said then Qoro turned to him.


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“He told me that we were going to Hong Kong and if someone gets injured he will be substituted with a reserve player but with any injured player. But for you (to Rabonu) if you die you will be substituted. And if you die on that field I will make sure that your body is taken back to your home.

“That was our objective when we played for Fiji in those days. Rugby came first but the rest is second,” Rabonu added.

Former Flying Fijians that were present during the funeral included enterprising fullback Epeli Turuva, Maika Toga, Ilami Lutumailagi, Belasio Vukiwai, Ilai Koroita­mana, Asaeli Hughes, Mark Black, Sale Soro­vaki and Penisoni Waki.




The late Qoro started his career with the Nawaka Rugby Club before being named in the Nadi team in 1984.

Three years later he made his debut at the Fijian 7s team before being selected for the Fijian side to the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Qoro made his debut for the Flying Fijians against Queensland in April 1987 before be­ing selected for the Rugby World Cup in May.

His memorable moment was when he kicked over a 40-metre drop goal against Italy at the RWC,

His last international match for the Flying Fijians was against Belgium, at Liège on Oc­tober 7, 1989.

Later that year, Qoro moved to Sri Lanka to play for Kandy until 1991,

He died at the age of 54 and is survived by his wife Bulou, six children and three grand­children.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua



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