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Who will it be?

Waisale Koroiwasa
Saturday, August 16, 2014

WILL the Ratu Kadavulevu School Under 18 rugby team defy all odds and come off Churchill Park victorious, with heads held high? Despite losing five key players to the national U18 sevens squad to the Youth Olympics, will this affect their desire to claim, for the first time the Coke Zero Deans Trophy at this level?

These are some of the questions that will be running through the minds of rugby supporters, the students of RKS, old scholars and their opponents. As Lelean Memorial School's U18 skipper said, the absence of the five RKS players would make the Lodoni boys stronger.

In every player's lifetime, there may be not more than half a dozen occasions that he can look back on and appreciate the knowledge that right then, at that moment, there was room for nothing but happiness in his heart.

For the five RKS players, their moments of playing in and may be winning the final has been traded with playing for the national youth team in China.

A member of the victorious unbeaten 1973 RKS under 19 team, Deans Trophy, Casmier Trophy (which was competed for by Lealen Memorial School, Queen Victoria School, Marist Brothers High School and RKS) and overall trophy winner and retired prison officer, Ratu Manoa Seru shared his experience of what the trophy meant to RKS.

RKS fans reckon that by right, the Deans Trophy belongs to them, he laughed. He remembers the trophy was part of their lives and retaining it brought pride for every student.

When I asked my naita which team will walk away with the Coke Zero Deans Trophy, Ratu Manoa was confident and without hesitation said it would be RKS.

"To the boys… despite the commotion involving the school, do your best and know that you are our warriors fighting for the whole school", he said.

"Back then, there was no such thing as playing in your age group. Your grade was determined by your weight irrespective of your age. At times, senior boys played at a lower grade because of their weight.

"In our champion 1973 team, Samisoni Tuirara, a Form Three student was brought up to play alongside his older brother in the senior team. This was due to his physique and weight. The senior team then was the U19 team.

"We played Navuso Agriculture School (now known as Navuso Methodist High School) in the final. The Navuso boys had the advantage as there were players from around the Pacific.

"Due to a request made by the RKS Old Boys Association, the game was then played on the Friday afternoon after they had finished work. Support from them was so intense and is still with us now.

"We were down by 10 points in the first half. As we resumed in the second half, all were raring to go and win the trophy for our school and supporters.

"There was always a word of encouragement from our principal, a Rotuman man and whenever he approached an under-19 team member he said, 'Boys play hard to win but play clean'.

"Inoke Tuirara, the eldest of the Tuirara brothers scored our opening try in the second spell followed by Nete Yabaki, the younger brother of former minister, Konisi Yabaki. Inoke Tabualevu put the final nail in the coffin as we made a clean sweep winning the Overall Trophy, the Eastern Championship Trophy and the Deans trophy that year.

"Isimeli Radrodro later join the Fiji team, Sairusi Qalivutu played for the army while Lote Naikasewa played for Nadroga.

If we knew back then that rugby would be a source of income, most of us could have been in a better place now as we were only taking it as part of school work."

Today is the big day. By this evening, there will be a new champion of the Deans Trophy. RKS supporters will be hoping they will be the ones to hoist the trophy.

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