Fiji Sports | SPORTS

Yes, Marist Can

Former captain recalls Deans Trophy back-to-back wins.
04 Oct 2022 13:04
Yes, Marist Can
Ratu Meli Saubulinayau at his home in Samabua, Suva, on October 3, 2022. The retired army officer captained Marist Brothers High School that won the Deans Trophy in 1976 and 1977. Photo: Leon Lord

With the 81st Deans final four days away, retired senior military officer Ratu Meli Saubulinayau, 64, has been having flashes of the 1976 and 1977 Vodafone Super Deans Trophy on his mind.

Yesterday at his Samabula home the former Marist Brothers High School rugby skipper and school dux; the Tupou, Lakeba in Lau gentle giant modestly said that like the rest of the extended Marist community he too wants the 44-year drought to end.

“Back then Deans rugby to me was just a game school boys play for their school,” Saubulinayau said.

“It was a back-to-back win and I was there for Marist. It was an honour and still treasure those days.”


“I was Number 8 and also the kicker. The first time Marist won was in 1972 when they drew with Lelean Memorial School in the final.”

The Deans Trophy started in 1939 with Queen Victoria School the pioneer winners; QVS and Ratu Kadavulevu School have engraved their names the most on the prestigious senior boys’ trophy.

“Now it’s more than just a school game, it’s like the whole of Fiji is competing for that trophy, people from the West, East, North and the Southern divisions are supporting their school.

“Back in the 1970s it was only the Eastern and the Central.”


Saubulinayau went to Cicia Primary School up to Class Four, returned home in Lakeba in 1969 for Class Five.

St Martin de Porres Catholic Parish was established in Lakeba in 1966. His late father was one of the carpenters building the Catholic Church in Tubou when Father Cart offered to bring three boys over to attend Marist Vatuwaqa (now St Marcellin Primary School).

“I attended Marist Vatuwaqa in 1970, 71 and 72 (Classes Six to Eight) in 1973 I went to Marist High School. Coming from the island, New Zealand University Entrance was hard so I sat NZUE the following year to pass well, I captained Marist again in 1977.”


“Those in the team included Peter Kean, Paulo Nawalu, Joeli Tuivaga, Iowane Naivalurua and many others. We won the Deans back to back 1976 and 1977.

“I was excited and grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to captain the team in 1976 and 1977.”

Augustine House member Saubulinayau will watch two of his nephews on Saturday donning the No.8 jumpers in the opposite camps at the final at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

While his brother’s son, Jone Taoba dons jersey No. 8 for Suva Grammar School his nephew Iowane Puamau is No.8 for MBHS.

The Marist Old Boy was emotional when asked about his prediction for Saturday.


“Keep to your game plan, keep it simple and stick to the process that has been working,” he said.

“With God’s grace the better team will win.”

“I always believe that any team can beat the record but it was only God that can provide it.”

“In 2015, I presented the Marist U18 team their jerseys and I wished them luck hoping that they will return the Deans to Marist but it was not God’s plan.”


“Going into the final after a long time this year, if God has given the approval for the team to win then nothing can take it away, God has given them this opportunity they must take it.

“After their quarter final match, I told my brother (Taoba’s dad) that RKS was the team to beat, if Marist can beat them, I believe we can beat any team.

“After beating Ba Pro last week I strongly believe Marist will win the competition this year, they will be the team that will destroy the zone champions.”




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