Fiji’s second three in a row
5 April, 2018, 12:00 am
After making headlines from 1990-92, Fiji failed to make an impact in 1993.
Firstly, Western Samoa denied Fiji a historic four in a row at the So Kon Po Stadium by winning their first HK 7s title with a bruising 14-12 final triumph over Fiji, the favourites, who had won the title seven times and completed a hat-trick.
Samoa laid down the challenge with a ferocious war dance and proceeded to play a strong physical game.
Vaisuai and Ieremia scored for Samoa while Rasari and Vonolagi managed tries for Fiji.
The 1993 RWC 7s which was held in Scotland, was won by England after the Roses overpowered Fiji 21-7 in the semis and Australia 21-17 in the final.
The Fijian contingent was made up of Nadura, Rabaka, Rasari, Vesi and Vili Rauluni, Serevi, Seru, Vonolagi, Jone Vueti and Penisoni Waki.
Fijians were disappointed. More disappointments followed as a new breed of All Blacks coached by Gordon Tietjens walloped Australia in 1994 (32-20) and Fiji in 1995 (35-17) and 1996 (19-17).
Perhaps the pain of losing in 1996 was felt by the Fijians as it took a Fijian in Waisiki Masirewa to inflict defeat on his fellow brothers.
Fiji got a taste of its own medicine when a young Jonah Lomu, with sheer power and speed to break tackles, stole the limelight and the Tongan born immediately made the All Blacks 1995 RWC 15s team.
However, the 1997 RWC 7s in HK brought back glory days.
Fiji became the second team to win the Melrose Cup after defeating South Africa 24-21. The nation united as Tuikabe, Erenavula, Maraiwai, Naikelekele, Duvuduvukula, Serevi, Vunibaka, Naituyaga, Koroi and Bari stood triumphant.
The South Africans were favourites and badly wanted to emulate the success of their 15s team to become the first nation to win two RWCs.
Trailing the Boks 14-0, Fiji scored four tries to Vunibaka, Erenavula and a double to Koroi to lift the Melrose Cup.
The Sigatoka Bridge was named the Melrose Bridge and a holiday was declared.
In 1998 Fiji with Serevi, Maraiwai, Rokini, Tuikabe, Seta and Aussie 7s rep Bruce Rauqe defeated Samoa 28-19.
Fiji’s tries were scored by Vunibaka, Tuikabe and Maraiwai while Toa and Ailoa Samania crossed over for Samoa.
Fiji’s winning try was scored by Rauqe. A year later the world watched in awe as Fiji beat the All Blacks 21-12 to make it three wins in HK.
Perhaps the turning factor was an emotional Apo Satala who could not control his tears during the singing of our anthem.
Smiling assassin Aporosa Dauvucu, Samu Saumaisue and Fero stood out for the Fijians.
The three in a row in HK was led by the late Rupeni Ravonu and the never say die attitude of our warriors.