MEMORIES of the 2000 Wellington Sevens remains etched in the minds and hearts of all Fiji fans the world over.
Waisale Serevi and Viliame Satala had played a club game in France and travelled several hours back to their Mont de Marsan club base.
They unpacked their bags, could hardly say goodnight to their families as they slept, packed for the New Zealand trip and left on a two-hour drive to the airport.
Once there, they realised their tickets had not come through from Fiji so they had to drive back home. Two days later, they were headed back to the airport. This time they got on the plane and reached New Zealand.
Coach Peni Veidreyaki barely had any time to put together a combination. Satala and Serevi reached New Zealand on Thursday with the tournament scheduled to start the following day.
He had to rely on tactics and the experience and understanding of players like Serevi, Satala, Filimone Delasau, Setareki Tawake, Jope Tuikabe, Fero Lasagavibau, Marika Vunibaka and Taniela Qauqau to unleash their magic wand.
Good wins in pool play was followed by massive scores in the quarter and semi-finals. Tonga was ripped apart in the quarter-final 47-7 and Samoa in the semi-finals 47-12. Filimone Delasau scored five tries in the two games and was in fine form. The showdown in the final was what many had expected. Fiji versus New Zealand. Serevi versus Christian Cullen and Satala versus Jonah Lomu. The Fijians were simply too good on the day. Lomu had his jersey ripped off by Delasau and Satala sent Cullen out with a bone-jarring tackle. Two tries each to Crusaders flyer Vunibaka and Delasau and two conversions by Serevi had Eric Rush and his men well beaten in the inaugural tournament 24-14.
"Rugby sevens is our game," an elated Serevi declared after one of our most memorable victories.