THE Scotland rugby party visited a small Fijian village yesterday, which had been inundated in floods earlier this year, handed over rugby kit from home and made personal cash donations following another heart-felt welcome.
Nawaka, population 1800, not far from the squad's base in Nadi, had seen many villagers lose all their possessions in floods caused by sustained heavy rainfall and, sure enough, the heavens opened for the short stay today.
Scotland were given a stirring welcome by the villagers from Nawaka
We were told that only five houses in the village had escaped the flooding, with most homes waist-deep in rain water. Around 100 families had been evacuated to a village school during the worst of the flooding.
Floods had damaged Nawaka earlier this year and heavy rain greeted the squad's visit yesterday.
The squad were presented to the village chief, Ratu Manasa Qoro Naevo in his bure where a traditional kava ceremony took place, with Scottish Rugby Union president Ian McLauchlan on hand to accept the first kava from the tanoa bowl on the squad's behalf. They also learned a little about the village's history and its prowess in sport, especially rugby.
The great Fijian winger of the early 1980s, Sainivalati Laulau, who scored 20 tries in his 32 caps, was born here and the village is also renowned as the birthplace of a genuine SAS war hero, Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, who died after single-handedly keeping at bay some 250 insurgents in a battle at Mirbat in south-western Oman in 1972.
Men and women from the village entertained the squad with some rousing Fijian songs, invited players and management up to dance - a combination of conga, Dashing White Sergeant and the rhythmical hip swaying moves of the South Pacific - and then enjoyed the squad's version of Caledonia, the Dougie MacLean folk song, which was led by Euan Murray.