Rugby | SPORTS

‘Island Zone Rugby Revival’

Island teams like Moturiki, Ovalau, Gau, Koro, Nairai, Lakeba, Vanuabalavu, Matuku, Moala, Ono-i-Lau, Rotuma, Kadavu, Rabe, Bua North, Yasawa, Cakaudrove-i-wai and Malolo had been participating before the competition came to an abrupt halt.
22 Nov 2021 13:00
‘Island Zone Rugby Revival’
Vodafone Flying Fijian halfback Frank Lomani (left) and hooker Sam Matavesi. Matavesi’s dad, Sireli, was the number eight for Vanuabalavu and was idenitified through the island zone competition where he was selected for the Fiji Barbarians that toured England in 1965. Photo: FRU Media

The Fiji Rugby Union is working on reviving the Island Zone competition, which is one for the most followed competitions in the country.

This was revealed on Saturday by Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor, after the FRU Annual General Meeting at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

“We are now looking for a sponsor,” O’Connor said of the Tier 3 competition, which had been defunct for over 10 years.

 

“We have received interests from the islands who want to play in a rugby competition.”

O’Connor said apart from securing a sponsor they are also looking at a possible time to stage the competition.

“This is to be suitable for everyone,” he added.

 

The competition before was staged during the first week of the second term school holidays. This coincided with the Hibiscus Festival and the annual Methodist Church conference.

Island teams like Moturiki, Ovalau, Gau, Koro, Nairai, Lakeba, Vanuabalavu, Matuku, Moala, Ono-i-Lau, Rotuma, Kadavu, Rabe, Bua North, Yasawa, Cakaudrove-i-wai and Malolo had been participating before the competition came to an abrupt halt.

Ovalau, Rabi and Yasawa were the island teams that went on to play in the major union competition.

 

O’Connor said they are looking at travelling and accommodation costs for the participating teams.

The competition has been the breeding ground of many of our rugby stars like Kaiava Salusalu, Joeli Veitayaki, Sireli Matavesi, Vesito Rauluni, Jone Daunivucu, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Jone Railomo and so on.

Matavesi played No.8 for Vanuabalavu and was selected to the Fiji Barbarians side that toured England in 1985.

 

He made such an impression during a match in Cornwall that Camborne Rugby Club paid for him to return to play for them.

It was there Matavesi met Camborne local Karen Lean who he started a family.

Today, his sons Josh, Sam and Joel have represented the Flying Fijians and are playing professionally.

 

So is Matuku prop, Joeli Veitayaki, who went on to represent Fiji at the 1999 Rugby World Cup and is now living in New Zealand.

His son Haereiti Hetet is now a member of the Flying Fijians squad and the Fiji Drua side for next year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Daunivucu played for Fiji when they won the 2005 Sevens Rugby World Cup. He later teamed-up with the late Railomo at the 2007 Rugby World Cup where they beat Wales and qualified for the quarterfinals.

 

Rauluni was one of our sevens star forwards from the 1989-1992 famous wins in Hong Kong while Caucau made his mark at Super Rugby and was regarded as one of the world’s best wingers.

 

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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