Editorial

Editorial: A Tribute To A Rugby Legend – Joeli Vidiri

The passing of rugby great Joeli Vidiridirinatabua Nadriubalavu Nalewavada last week in America has shocked the Pacific rugby family. Vidiri, 47, passed away in hospital after suffering a trio of cardiac arrests while battling COVID-19. Also in 2016, he battled a kidney disease and had surgery.
01 Mar 2022 12:27
Editorial: A Tribute To A Rugby Legend – Joeli Vidiri

The passing of rugby great Joeli Vidiridirinatabua Nadriubalavu Nalewavada last week in America has shocked the Pacific rugby family.

Vidiri, 47, passed away in hospital after suffering a trio of cardiac arrests while battling COVID-19.

Also in 2016, he battled a kidney disease and had surgery.

 

We mourn the loss of a Super 12 pioneer who had set the platform for our many home grown Fijian rugby stars to achieve better with their rugby talents.

At six foot and 100kilograms he was an imposing figure on the wing – the size and strength were clear but it was the speed.

In a media interview back in 2016 the former Queen Victoria School (QVS) student said players of the then Super Rugby probably have their brothers of 20 years ago to thank for the advantages they enjoy now.

 

He was for one who had hopes that a combined Pacific side would be included in the SRC.

His point was it could grow the game and develop a pathway for [Pacific] people to follow.

Vidiri had stressed that Fiji has given a lot to rugby in New Zealand and Australia and it was time to give back to the Pacific Islands.

 

Twenty-six years after he lifted the inaugural Super 12 trophy in 1996 for Auckland Blues, our Swire Shipping Fijian Drua are finally part of the new look Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Originally from Nausori Village, Namataku, Nadroga; Vidiri had started his education at the village school before moving into QVS.

With his Fijian smile trademark he had played for both Fiji and the All Blacks, played in the Super 12 for the Auckland Blues from 1996 until 2001, where he scored 43 tries in 61 games, at the time an individual record.

 

In 2000 Joeli created the record for most tries scored in one match scoring four against the Bulls, a record which has since been broken when Sean Wainui scored five tries against the Waratahs in 2021.

He had a song named after him (Give Me Hope Joeli) that was very popular with the Auckland Blues fans at home games at Eden Park.

His children, rugby fans, former Blues and All Blacks mates are paying to have his body flown to New Zealand where is expected to be laid to rest in Pukekohe.

 

He appeared in only five Super 12 matches in 2001, with his illness impacting on his ability to play.

His undeniable impact on the rugby field opened up opportunities for greener pastures to numerous Fijians who have taken up professional rugby overseas.

A Super Rugby legend, his death was announced to Sky Sport during the half-time break in the Super Rugby Pacific match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night.

 

In the past few days like his former school mates from Matavatucou the New Zealand media have been pouring tributes about their much loved former All Black.

Moce Mada vakalekaleka Vidiri.

 

Feedback: karalaini.waqanidrola@fijisun.com.fj



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