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Five Facts About Our 7s Star

The Fijian national rugby sevens team has produced some of the sport’s greatest athletes.
06 Sep 2022 04:00
Five Facts About Our 7s Star
Fiji Airways Fijian 7s halfback Jerry Tuwai is our trump card at this weekend’s Rugby World Cup Sevens. He is hopeful of winning his first World Cup Sevens title.

The Fijian national rugby sevens team has produced some of the sport’s greatest athletes.

Maestro Waisale Serevi and Ru­peni Caucaunibuca are two of the elite products that come to mind with their speed and crea­tivity on the pitch, but they’ve been out of the game since 2007 and 2010, respectively.

 

Enter Jerry Tuwai.

The 33-year-old Tuwai has be­come one of Fiji’s best stories in the past decade, and he’s set to continue his dominant play on the field at the Los Angeles Sevens and this weekend at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, South Africa.

Here are five facts about Tuwai, who will undoubtedly have plen­ty of eyes on him at the World Cup Sevens:

 

He dropped volleyball for rugby at age 18

Rugby actually was not Tuwai’s first sport – it was volleyball. He grew up in Newtown, a small community in the suburbs near Suva, and eventually dropped volleyball for rugby when he was 18 years old.

Despite being 5-foot-7, Tuwai impressed with his speed and agility to blow by bigger defend­ers, which was the start of his journey.

 

His first club was his hometown team in Newtown

Tuwai’s first experience with rugby came with the Newtown Rugby Club, his hometown team.

His coach, Meli Nakalivadra, praised Tuwai’s raw talents on the field, and he later began play­ing for the Marist Rugby Club.

 

The Fijian coaching staff initially disregarded him due to his size

After impressing with Marist in a local game played in Suva, Tu­wai began to turn heads within the coaching staff of the Fijian national team.

He received a camp invite to train with the team, undoubt­edly a huge step up for the New­town kid. However, he lasted just one camp as the coaching staff deemed him too small to make it in international rugby.

 

It wasn’t until two years later when Ben Ryan, the head coach at the time, invited him to come back.

Ryan helped Tuwai improve in departments where he lacked, including mental skills, and he eventually debuted with the na­tional side in the 2014 Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.

 

He is one of two Fijians to win World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year

The World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award goes to the player with the most impressive outings in all sevens competi­tions that year, especially the World Sevens Series.

Samisoni Viriviri was the first Fijian to take home the prize in 2014, and Tuwai later followed suit in 2019.

Tuwai was nominated in each of the two years prior, but lost both times to USA’s Perry Baker.

 

Who is the only rugby player with two Olympic medals?

That’s right, it’s Jerry Tuwai.

Talk about an exclusive cat­egory. Rugby debuted in the Olympics in 2016, and it was Tu­wai’s Fiji that won the first ever gold medal in the category after thrashing Great Britain 43-7.

 

Then in 2021, Fiji beat New Zea­land 21-12 in its defense of the gold medal.

Tuwai was the only Fijian to have played for both squads, so he’s breathing rare air.

 



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