Flying Fijians Plan To Build On Fijian Drua Success

After two difficult years due to COVID-19, new head coach Simon Raiwalui wants to reconnect the Flying Fijians with the people as he gets on with the task of preparing the team for Rugby World Cup 2023.
20 Mar 2023 12:50
Flying Fijians Plan To Build On Fijian Drua Success
Swire Shipping Fijian Drua players centre Iosefo Masi runs in to score the first try against Crusaders on March 11, 2023. Photo: Leon Lord

The joy on the faces of the large crowd bathed in sunshine at Churchill Park in Lautoka when the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua shocked the Crusaders 25-24 in the third round of the Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific spoke volumes for the passion the people of the Islands have for rugby.

To witness the Drua turn the tables on a team that had beaten them 61-5 last time out and has dominated Super Rugby for years was something that the umbrella-waving, short-sleeved hordes will never forget. Especially as so little rugby has been played on the Islands in the last few years due to COVID-19.

The packed stands were bouncing as soon as the flags were raised to confirm Kemu Valetini’s penalty had won the Drua the match, 25-24, signalling the latest milestone in the incredible journey of one of professional rugby’s newest outfits, that was put together hastily in time for the start of Super Rugby Pacific 2022.

It has given Fiji’s rugby-mad supporters another team to throw their support behind, in addition to the Flying Fijians, who have been almost invisible since the last Rugby World Cup.

Fiji’s senior national men’s 15s team has only played twice on home soil since June 2019, but they’re set to face Tonga in Lautoka this July as part of a five-match, pre-RWC 2023 itinerary. With just seven months to go before the tournament gets underway, new head coach Simon Raiwalui only has a small window to change things, but one thing he considers to be non-negotiable is making sure the team reconnects with its public.


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Source: Rugby World Cup 2023


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