THE village of Cuvu and the Nadroga rugby fraternity is mourning the death of one of the country's former rugby greats, Rupeni Qaraniqio.
The former Nadroga and Fiji captain passed away early this week and will be laid to rest at Cuvu tomorrow.
Qaraniqio is known for his tough and no-nonsense attitude on the rugby field but he will be best remembered for his contribution to Nadroga's nine-year Farebrother reign in the seventies.
Qaraniqio's teammate on that champion Nadroga side Eveni Tuituba said the province had lost one of its greatest players.
Qaraniqio featured for Nadroga when they played the touring All Blacks in 1980 and lost 14-6 at Churchill Park in Lautoka.
He was also part of the Fiji team that came close to upsetting the All Blacks in a Test in Suva, only to lose 14-13.
The "Spoiler" as he was called in the rugby paddock was also part of the Fiji team that upset the touring British Lions side in Suva in 1977.
Nephew Ratu Tevita Volavola said Qaraniqio passed away at the Lautoka Hospital on Tuesday after a long illness.
Ratu Tevita said Qaraniqio had just turned 66 on Monday.
Qaraniqio is survived by his wife Verenaisi Qaraniqio, four children and seven grand-children. A church service will be held at 10am tomorrow in Cuvu before the former rugby great is laid to rest.