THE visiting IRB Rugby World Cup officials accompanying the iconic Webb Ellis Cup were amazed with the traditional welcome ceremony performed by the students of Ratu Navula College yesterday.
Dressed in traditional warrior's costumes, two students escorted the cup from the school entrance to the school foyer where students, teachers, parents and friends had patiently waited to take a glimpse of this golden trophy.
The IRB delegation was presented with a "whales tooth" as a mark of respect signifying the arrival of the prestigious trophy to the school.
FORU president and representative to the IRB council Lefau Harry Schuster said he was thrilled with the reception performed by the students.
He said the Webb Ellis Cup attracted and united people from all walks of life.
"It's an honour to be part of this contingent especially to receive a very amazing, warm and moving traditional ceremony of welcome," said Schuster.
"It shows the passion Fijians have for the trophy and for rugby.
"I also thank the England rugby officials who will be hosting the world cup in allowing the trophy to be in Fiji."
Schuster said rugby was a national sport in Fiji and the Webb Ellis Cup reception spoke volumes of the Fijians' love towards the game.
"As an Oceania rep to the IRB, it's an honour to be here this morning and to be at this very importantly welcoming ceremony of the Webb Ellis trophy in Fiji," he said.
"The pacific is the only region in the world where rugby is the national sport though it was invented in England.
"Fiji is always one of our leading rugby nations and it's fitting to have the trophy here in Fiji.
"We are proud of our heritage and I want to see this trophy in the Pacific after the world cup next year."
The delegation later toured the Garden of Sleeping Giant in Sabeto where the Flying Fijians skipper Akapusi Qera joined his Cook Islands counterpart Stanley Wright for a photo session.