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Creating 7s history

Kameli Rakoko
Thursday, February 08, 2018

AFTER the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s victory in Hamilton last weekend rugby fans can now be assured that we have the best chance of winning our first Commonwealth title in April and a third Melrose Cup in August.

No more bees will be flying in May (maybees) in this campaign and Gareth Baber's men just proved to the sevens world they have finally hit the jackpot —— winning formula and that they have the potential to lock horns with the best in the game and come out victors.

In Hamilton, they buried every sevens powerhouse in the competition, boasted and rubbed their noses on to the Hamilton dirt. They outsmarted Australia in pool play, outsprinted Samoa in the quarter-final, edged New Zealand in the semi-final and ploughed barasi through South Africa in the final. It was all in a day's work. Our boys received as much as they gave on the field and in the end the goalkicking accuracy of playmaker Amenoni Nasilasila made the difference.

The final will go down as one of those classic Fijian comeback victories. South Africa led 17-5 at halftime and Fiji came back in the second half with their South Seas razzle-dazzle to win 24-17. Three tries to winger Alusio Naduva and one to rover Eroni Sau and it was 1984 once again when Senivalati Laulau and Etuate Honda Gusuivalu ruled Hong Kong.

Aggressive defence has always been Fiji's main weapon and an improvement in their attacking ability was sheer champagne rugby.

Getting the ball wide to the runners created havoc and the South Africans were steamrolled in rucks and outmuscled in mauls.

The greatest motivational factor in this case were the demand from fans who had been starved of victory celebration since Hong Kong 7s in 2017.

Criticism they would face when they returned home after a dismal Sydney tournament losing to USA in the quarter-final was also in the back of their minds.

As we watched the boys celebrate after the final whistle it was one of great relief and they thoroughly deserved it. History was also created as Fiji had won the inaugural Wellington tournament in 2000 and now claimed the first Hamilton scalp also.

A seventies hit love song says that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' as we revived our New Zealand sevens love affair after eight long years. The last time Fiji won was in 2010 and this made the Hamilton victory very much sweeter.

No more 'crying time' and 'faraway look in your eyes' in the next twelve months as we hold on to our 'darling' trophy.

The execution of the rugby tries, Fijian style, were like a combination of honey and champagne popping on the tongue.

Ra Fury Paula Dranisinukula's copybook sidestep, flat-footing South Africa's Du Pree and Kalioni Nasoko's double-up combination with Naduva were sheer rugby tactical brilliance on display. A dance artist could put together those rugby action and produce a lively meke or dance action.

There was something comforting about the crowd in Hamilton. As the matches were played the camera would switch to the grandstands where thousands of Fijian fans were cheering and anxiety would disappear and confidence boosted. It says a lot of the behind the scene happenings at the wonderful Hamilton church community.

In every Fiji home the celebration would have been ecstatic as families hugged each other and celebrated. It was Christmas and New Year all over again as firecrackers ruled the night skies.

Jerry Tuwai and Baber's sevens players will be reminded of the enormity of their task and should be happy to know what joy they brought to every home in Fiji on Sunday and throughout the world as the radio stations were flooded with calls from Fijians still celebrating in different parts of the planet.

A system put in place to give fans the chance to give their saqamoli dollar to go towards the welfare of the players would be the best way to show our appreciation.

Fan clubs for particular players is another way of raising money for our players and does not need the approval of the authorities.

Perhaps the yaqona millionaires of our islands could contribute a percentage of their profits to go to a pool just for our gallant warriors and their families.

A Kadavu farmer came $12 short of making a million dollars last week for the sale of his yaqona in Suva.

Sevens victories boost yaqona sales and the local consumption has proven to be the biggest market.

Business marketing means promoting more sales of one's products and our players can win more tournaments if their welfare is well looked after,

Donating money from yaqona sales to our sevens players is not only a traditional social obligation to share with one's fellow men but is also a healthy business proposition.

Yaqona swipers say that the root juice tastes sweeter when Fiji wins and avoid it when Fiji loses because it tastes like mud trodden by cats and dogs.

The question every Fiji sevens fan should be asking is if our national reps have given their all to win for our country, what can we do to show our appreciation. The writers of those fancy letters in the newspapers and witty remarks in the social media show that we have the brains out there to come up with ways of doing more for the boys.

An old English saying goes 'put your money where your mouth is' means to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something.

Anything apart from that is grossly unfair.

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