Rugby

Cotter: Our Nightmare  

Instead it was a bit of an ambush from the start. We did not have individual rooms at first, and had to arrange those. Other teams were in a bubble while they finished the Six Nations, whereas we had players coming in and out, and we were moving from one hotel to another: Vern Cotter
04 Dec 2020 14:13
Cotter: Our Nightmare   
From left: Albert Tuisue, Vern Cotter, Johnny Dyer, Manueli Ratuniyarawa and Mesulame Kunavula at their camp base in France. Photo: FRU

Neither coach Vern Cotter nor his Fly­ing Fijians have seen anything like it.

The experience will be something to remember for a lifetime

Arriving in France on October 25 to prepare for the Autumn Na­tions Cup and having three games cancelled due to the COVID-19 pan­demic is one. The other is being in enforced isolation with some being holed up in their hotel rooms for 22 days.

Finally, at last, they are now hop­ing to show the rugby world what it’s been missing for the past month,

Cotter’s men emerged from the lockdown ready to make a belated entrance in the competition just in time for the 7th place playoff against Georgia in Murrayfield on Sunday.

They returned to training on Mon­day and will fly to Edinburgh today.

Cotter told news.uk.com: “It was a great feeling to see the boys out on the field training, having fun throwing the ball around, even if the temperature was minus four degrees.

“We have had our stand-down, 14 days of isolation and now we have the opportunity to drag something out of the competition.”

Virus source

Cotter believes the source of the outbreak – which was at its height when 22 players and seven manage­ment from the 46-strong party test­ed positive on 16 November – was a five-hour bus trip between Limoges and Saint-Etienne on 8 November, the day the team became an official part of the Autumn Nations Cup which is being run by the Six Na­tions.

Before that day, their training camp, travel and accommodation were under the aegis of the Fiji Rugby Union.

“On an organisational level, if we had three weeks together in one ho­tel before the competition, it might have helped,” Cotter said.

“Instead it was a bit of an ambush from the start. We did not have in­dividual rooms at first, and had to arrange those. Other teams were in a bubble while they finished the Six Nations, whereas we had play­ers coming in and out, and we were moving from one hotel to another.

“We almost certainly picked the virus up on the bus, or at a motor­way stop, when we moved from Limoges. It is so disappointing as we were looking forward to getting stuck into this competition.

“But this is COVID and with COV­ID, you don’t look at blaming people. I know what the virus is like, I had it in February, and tested negative several times since then. I lost my sense of taste and smell, and only really got them back six weeks ago.

“Confinement was hard for the players.

“The players like being together, and they missed things like having their prayer meetings in the even­ing. Hotel people were bringing us meals in our rooms, three times a day.

“It is tough coming out after 14 days but you can feel the life about the team. In a lot of ways, I am see­ing the positives of a shared experi­ence.

“I think we will put in a perfor­mance to be proud of, to represent Fijian rugby and the country.”

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

 

 


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