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The Untold Story Of Our 7s Stars

They were mates as boarders at Natabua High School in Lautoka and they played rugby together.
07 Jun 2019 11:25
The Untold Story Of Our 7s Stars
Fiji's Vilimoni Botitu runs in a try against Ireland on day two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Twickenham Stadium in London on 26 May, 2019. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Our newest rugby stars Vilimoni Botitu and Meli Derenalagi did not meet for the first time when they were chosen for the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team.

They were mates as boarders at Natabua High School in Lautoka and they played rugby together.

It is part of their untold story.

In fact they played for the school’s Under-14, U15 and U16 rugby teams from 2012-2014. In 2015 Derenalagi went to Queen Victoria School. Their coach in 2013-14, Tevita Ratucadra, now a Lomary Secondary School teacher, said last night: “They were disciplined and humble students.”

Meli Derenalagi about to score a try against Canada in Hamilton on January 27, 2019. Photo: World Rugby

Meli Derenalagi about to score a try against Canada in Hamilton on January 27, 2019. Photo: World Rugby

He said they were among many talented boys. Botitu’s dad, Josaia Lobau, endorsed Mr Ratucadra’s comments. From that humble beginning in Lautoka they have become household names at the age of 20.

The duo again played together for the Vodafone Fijian U20 side under coach Koli Sewabu and won the World Rugby U20 Trophy Championship in Romania last year.

On August 21, 2018, Sewabu said then he recommended Botitu, Derenalagi and a few other players to Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber.

In their first year at the HSBC World Sevens Series, Botitu topped the DHL Impact Player of the Series while Derenalagi was named the World Rugby Sevens Rookie of the Year. Also, their sterling performance resulted in Botitu being named the Player of the final at the Cape Town 7s in South Africa while Derenalagi was named Player of the final at the London 7s.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: mereleki.nai@fijisun.com.fj

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