Fiji Time: 5:40 PM on Friday 19 December

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Dream debut

Rashneel Kumar
Friday, March 07, 2014

IT is the love for the sport that has brought Tauranga Rugby Club from Ovalau to the Capital City of Suva.

And it is the same love that will drive them through in the 38th Fiji Bitter Marist 7s tournament which kicks off this morning at the ANZ Stadium in Laucala Bay.

Until now, the club, which is made up of players from the neighbouring villages of Taviya, Rururuku and Arovudi, only dreamt of the biggest 7s tournament in the country.

But when it takes the field today, the team is confident it will overcome the emotions that have pushed them to achieve this long-time dream.

The team is seeking inspiration from Paula Bale, the first Fijian to play for the All Blacks 7s team, who also hails from Taviya Village.

"We have been hearing a lot about Marist 7s and how big it is, the kind of teams that compete in this tournament and all," Tauranga team manager and Bale's nephew, Nakeleto Vodo said.

"So we planned to participate in the tournament this year. We got the players from those three villages to make up this team."

At the beginning of this year, Tauranga officials started fundraising to support the historic trip to Suva.

"We collected $1 each from those who attended the weekly tournaments we hosted back in the village," Vodo said.

"It has cost us about $3000 in boat fare and accommodation to come and play in this tournament."

Vodo said most of their players in the 15-member squad were farmers specialising in dalo and yaqona farming apart from a couple who were skilled workers.

These include the former Marist Brothers High School middle distance runner Isikeli Rokowaqa who teaches at St John's College.

"The exposure is what we seek in the Marist 7s tournament. Our players hardly get a chance to play against the top clubs in Fiji and this is our only chance.

"We want to make good use of this opportunity."

Former Ovalau skipper Sekaia Korolala, who guided the team into the top tier provincial competition in the early part of this millennium, is coaching the team.

He is assisted by Apisai Boila.

The 25-member Tauranga team arrived in Suva yesterday and is billeted at the Mataniciva Hall in Toorak.

The side is pooled with Police National, CK Ezy Buy Tabadamu Team II and Uluinakau II.

* Marist 7s day one fixtures on Page 51.





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