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Patriotism to the brim

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, February 06, 2018

When national skipper Jerry Tuwai lifted the Cup at the end of the New Zealand 7s in Hamilton on Sunday, not many people would have known what went through his mind.

You could see the emotions in his face. He was happy.

Spotting battle scars, he went live on television praising the Almighty, his mates and the fans who provided the vital support base and lung power over two days in Hamilton.

The fans provided the motivation Jerry and the team needed to come good against a top field.

They defeated Wales, Spain and Australia in pool play to set up a quarter-final appearance against Samoa.

We were stretched to the wire by an enthusiastic effort by Samoa, but fought back to seal victory 12-10.

Then we took on the might of the hosts New Zealand in the Cup semi-finals.

We edged the hosts 14-12 to set up a thriller against defending sevens circuit champions South Africa in the final.

That's when we overturned a half-time deficit to come out victorious 24-17. That would have blown off any roof as fans savoured the victory to the brim.

We had become the darlings of the two-day event with the brand of rugby sevens fans expect of us.

We were running good lines when we got the chance. We defended aggressively and held our shape against top attacking sides.

We were on fire really. Passes stuck like glue to outstretched hands, our support play was great and perhaps a factor that wouldn't have gone unnoticed was our confidence.

We were actually very confident, and it reflected positively on the field and in the end.

In the face of that sits this startling revelation that our skipper was forced to miss one week of training because his grandfather had died and his son was very ill.

But you wouldn't have noticed that.

Perhaps it is an apt description of the commitment evident in our team.

Tuwai and his mates were under immense pressure after the embarrassment of Sydney.

But they had the tenacity and resilience to overcome their personal circumstances, take stock of where they stood, and come clean in Hamilton barely a week later.

We could actually take something out of this.

That no matter what happens in our lives, we have the power to make things happen positively for us.

In the face of negative vibes, there is hope, and we can either choose to be dragged down, or use them to motivate us to reach out for greater things and live our dreams.

Fijian fans are passionate about sevens rugby. This emotional attachment goes right through every demarcation line imaginable.

Surely sevens rugby unites us and forms a bridge that brings Fijians together.

The challenge though is on the men tasked to represent and coach us, to be on top of their game. They have the hot seat and a very patriotic fan base that is overly protective of our brand of sevens rugby. Congratulations are certainly in order.

Go Fiji go.

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