SPORTS

Farewell, Veidreyaki

Former national 7s coach late Peni Viavica Veidreyaki, 69, would also have brought an Olympics gold medal home if he was still coaching the Fiji Airways Sevens team. Fiji Rugby Union operations officer Tiko Matawalu said this in his eulogy at Veidreyaki’s home coming service at the Assembly of God Mount Zion Cathedral in Saru, Lautoka, yesterday.
07 Apr 2022 12:18
Farewell, Veidreyaki
The funeral service of the late Peni Veidreyaki in Lautoka on April 7, 2022. INSET: The late Peni Veidreyaki. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Former national 7s coach late Peni Viavica Veidreyaki, 69, would also have brought an Olympics gold medal home if he was still coaching the Fiji Airways Sevens team.

Fiji Rugby Union operations officer Tiko Matawalu said this in his eulogy at Veidreyaki’s home coming service at the Assembly of God Mount Zion Cathedral in Saru, Lautoka, yesterday.

The inaugural rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympics were won by Fiji for the men and Australia for the women.

Fiji XV flanker, Osea Koliloa, Sirilo Lala and Nadi rugby Skills and Conditioning coach Cohan Politini joined friends, family members and the rugby fraternity including local and international ex-reps at the service.

“Peni was a high achiever. It is crystal clear to us and those at Rugby House that he was a man in the rugby paddock. He lifted the standard of sevens before the expats came in,” Matawalu said.

“His voice was very sharp as he was often giving tips and guidance for the team’s performance in recent outings. He has set a benchmark and we will continue to work on it.

“If he was still around coaching the team, even at the Olympics he could have brought the gold medal. That is how he nurtured the boys with the talents they have.”

Veidreyaki coached the Namoli 7s team to many local and international meets before he coached the national side to the inaugural International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series in 1999-2000.

That season, Fiji and New Zealand equalled with five titles each. New Zealand edged Fiji after their Hong Kong 7s victory.

“Peni had set the benchmark. When his term ended he assisted teams in his province,” Matawalu said.

“Ben always believed in rugby as he played rugby for Davuilevu, better known as the Team ‘Korodredre’. He is a tough customer,” Semi Moroi said, on behalf of the Lelean Old Boys.

Veidreyaki died on March 29. He was ill for some time. Originally from Waya Levu in the Yasawa Group he had maternal links to the chiefly clan of Viseisei, in Vuda. The third eldest of nine siblings was laid to rest at Viseisei.

He attended Vuda District School and LMS before attending the South Pacific Bible College at Wainadoi. He was the Taukei Vunakura.

He is survived by wife, Adi Balavu Tora, five children and 19 grandchildren.



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