‘Next stop Rio’

THE 2016 Rio Olympics is the next stop for the Telecom Fijiana team after it qualified as one of the core teams for the 2014/15 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.

The Iliesa Tanivula-coached side won the Women’s Sevens World Series qualifier in Hong Kong after beating France 24-19 on Saturday night (Fiji time) to confirm its spot in the upcoming series.

In a statement, Fiji Rugby Union chairman Filimone Waqabaca said the qualification had brought much joy and encouragement to rugby house.

“Next stop Rio,” Waqabaca exclaimed.

FRU CEO Radrodro Tabualevu said the achievement was a timely reminder that diligence and perseverance reaped rewards.

He said there was much to learn from the players and officials adding their “selfless desire to represent the country was refreshing and uplifting”.

Fijiana coach Tanivula hailed the players for the milestone achievement.

He hopes the qualification as a core nation in the women’s 7s series will raise the profile of women’s rugby in the country.

“It’s huge, not only for Fijiana but for the whole country. It’s a historical moment for women’s rugby in Fiji and I know these girls have really worked hard for it,” Tanivula told Times Sport from Hong Kong yesterday.

The 2014/15 women’s 7s series will start with the Dubai 7s on December 4 and 5 followed by Brazil (February 7-8), US (March 14-15), Canada (April 18-19), England (May 15-16) and Netherlands (May 22-23).

Tanivula said they had to step up their preparation in order to compete effectively in the series. Vodafone Fiji 7s coach Ben Ryan congratulated the team and said he was looking forward to working together with Tanivula to ensure success for both national teams.

“It’s great that Fijiana won the qualifying tournament and can now be exposed regularly to the best women’s sides in the world which will hugely help their quest for Olympic qualification,” Ryan said.

“A good positive culture between the men’s and women’s programme already exists and it’s sure to get stronger over the next 12 months.”

Ryan said it was exciting times for Fiji rugby.

“I think Fijiana did brilliantly to qualify for the series. Their preparation for this tournament was tough financially for them and hopefully this will improve.

“It’s also important to see that the programme is a very new one and our goal should be just as focused on 2020 Tokyo Olympics as on Rio 2016.

“It’s vital in the women’s game we do talent ID and talent development now for the next generation post Rio.”