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Love, a new revelation

Kameli Rakoko
Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE Ratu Kadavulevu School-dominated national under-18 sevens team continue their impressive performance in the Youth Olympics and have a good chance of returning home with some booty.

The Sale Sorovaki-coached side lost its third pool match 17-12 to France yesterday after registering wins over Japan (29-5) and the US (29-10).

Fiji lost to France in the semi-finals but bounced back to beat Kenya in the bronze medal playoff.

One of the stars of the side, Nabukelevu, Kadavu lad and RKS winger Timoci Meya Love scored three tries in their game against the US.

The star RKS winger could be national sevens coach Ben Ryan's answer to fill the vacuum left by speed merchant Samisoni Viriviri.

Love is the main man in the RKS number 14 jersey who made that big run to win them the game against Ratu Navula College in the semifinals and has since continued to appear in the Deans trophy television advertising slot.

He had just lost his greatest supporter, namesake and grandfather, Timoci Love senior of Amunu Place in Kinoya, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Timoci also had a brother in Pio, who captained the RKS Under 17 but was injured in the quarterfinals and the RKS side then lost in the semifinals.

Their grandfather followed them to every game and had been doing so since they were in primary school and played Kaji rugby.

Both players represented Fiji in the Fiji Primary Schools under -13 Kaji team that played Tonga a couple of years ago and were champion sprinters in their primary school years.

One of the features of that match was how the two brothers played to help Fiji win, and how Pio smashed his opposite Tongan centre was the constant tale that Jim Love senior proudly talked about whenever the topic was about rugby.

Pio is in Year 12 and Timoci is in Year 13 at RKS.

The services of Love and four other RKS players were sorely missed in the Deans final that saw Lelean Memorial School win and the standard of play displayed by RKS was below par and it turned out to be an anti-climax for the much awaited schools rugby main match of the year.

As RKS board spokesman Alipate Naiorosui rightly said, "someone was sleeping on the job" and hopefully this will never happen again.

The next youth Olympics should never be coincided with the secondary schools rugby program or the Fiji Rugby Union should select a bigger squad from various schools to allow for such situation.

However, since this was the first Youth Olympics Games to include sevens rugby, we have now learnt a lesson from this incident.

Congratulations to Lelean and mentor Reverend Mavai for the Deans final performance by scoring the 13 points early and defending well for the rest of the game.

RKS' defence and decision making was poor as players had the bad habit of pulling jerseys during tackles and are 50 per cent effective only while the Davuilevu boys thoroughly deserved that victory because they tackled from their hearts physically, mentally and spiritually. They have proven to be the giant killer of schools rugby coming third overall in their Eastern zone competition and taking the scalps of all top rugby sides deserve credits.

In the quarter-finals they demolished the Southern zone champion Marist Brothers High School, QVS in the semifinals and RKS in the final and that's quite a fairy-tale run.

The Marist under-18 side of 2015 will be a formidable one minus their goalkicking star Simon Lilicama who has won a place in a New Zealand school.

But it will be a close competition next year, assuming all under-17 players of top schools return.

Lelean's under-17 also scored three tries against Marist and were denied the fourth try under the post that would have given them the title, due to an earlier infringement.

Schools rugby will be unsuccessful without the help of Lawrence Tikaram and the Coke Zero sponsorship making the Deans the highlight of the second term sporting event.

The hard work and sacrifice of the teachers who are not paid to be officials but do so because of their love of rugby union should be commended.

They have to look for sponsorship and rely on the goodness of parents and old scholars at the same time taking unwarranted criticism from glory seeking old scholars, most of whom never spend a penny.

Little do they realise that teachers fish out money from their pockets on daily and weekly basis to make things work.

Some schools and teachers have switched to rugby league because everything is paid for including allowances for officials, but some teachers remained as they love the game union.

In fact they are the real champions and deserve medals for their hard work.

Prior to the finals, I have been flooded with queries asking whether I was an RKS or Lelean fan by some who did not know which school I attended.

To settle the curiosity of readers I spent six years at RKS playing schools representative rugby from under-7 (stones) grade at Form 1 and 2 and through the grade to the seniors from 1969 to 1974.

I have been in champion sides in the lower grades, in my final year at Form 6 I decided to jump one weight up to join the senior team as in those days only the seniors wear rugby boots and we failed to defend the Deans losing 10-4 to QVS in the final.

My former teammates brought the Deans trophy back in 1975 while I was at USP.

I have been a parent of RKS, Lelean and Suva Grammar and coached Laucala Bay Secondary School under-18 and under-19 (2006-2007).

My nephew Navitalai Toge plays in my favourite outside centre position for Lelean under-18.

Like the former RKS scholars in the Lelean side, the provincial and technical adviser Reverend Joji Rinakama and the RKS trainer, who went to Lelean, Fiji rugby development was his ultimate focus and should remain to be so.

In my prediction or clue in last week's final, I said school rugby teams with territorial advantage, almost always won games.

This was proven in all lower grades as teams playing in their opposition half wins their match.

The "almost always" part belong to the feature match.

RKS dominated territory but Lelean won the game.

The reason was that RKS lacked finishing, they did not convert penalties into points and Lelean came up with gutsy ball-and-all defence.

Lelean's victory coincides with the Methodist Church's golden jubilee celebration and for 12 months they are the undisputed Deans trophy under-18 champions.

RKS, Marist, QVS and Ratu Navula can await their turn next year but 2014 had been written in the stars as it belongs to the giant killing rugby heroes of Davuilevu.

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