Top teams miss out

Marist Rugby Club president Lawrence Tikaram, 3rd from left, Pacific Energy business executive Tapuaki Finauga and Anare Wailevu with officials of Marist Rugby 7s after the cheque presentation yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Marist Rugby Club president Lawrence Tikaram, 3rd from left, Pacific Energy business executive Tapuaki Finauga and Anare Wailevu with officials of Marist Rugby 7s after the cheque presentation yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THREE top Fijian 7s teams have been bundled out of next week’s 42nd Fiji Bitter Marist 7s even before the first whistle.

They are Uluinakau, Hideaway Hurricanes and Cross of Victory from Taveuni.

They are out because of failure to meet tournament regulations, said Koli Korovulavula of the Marist Rugby Club, the organisers of the annual tournament.

“In the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s, we always seed our teams according to last year’s placings,” Korovulavula said.

He made the announcement during the launch of the tournament’s sponsorship agreement with Pacific Energy in Suva yesterday.

“Unfortunately some of the top teams that finished in the top five last year did not pay their registration fee on time. The Marist 7s is an even-surface competition, hence when rural teams pay first, the big teams go out, so we don’t have those big teams next week.”

Meanwhile, the tournament continues to live up to its name in helping grassroots rugby.

The 42nd edition has attracted three regional national sides — Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Korovulavula said the seeded teams to the 16 pools are Tabadamu, the defending champion for three years, Army 1, Police Blue, Shipping Services Stallions, First Light Taveuni, Ratu Filise, Police White, Marist, Wardens Rugby, Captain Cook Mosi Steelers, Samurai Barracudas, PNG Pukpuks, Team Solomons, Team Tuvalu, Holy Cross Parish Wairiki, and Nawaka.

Club president Lawrence Tikaram said the $10,000 sponsorship from Pacific Energy would help some rural teams competing next Friday and Saturday.

“The synergies between the two brands, (Fiji Bitter Marist 7s and Pacific Energy) are powerful because we support the same course and that is to develop grassroots level. We welcome sponsorships like this for the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s because it helps run the tournament,” Tikaram said.

“The money donated today (yesterday), $5000 for fuel vouchers will go back to the teams. We will select those rural teams that will want to use fuel vouchers. Our goal is to develop grassroots rugby and like Pacific Energy in expanding its footprint across Fiji, this support will help develop rugby.”

Pacific Energy’s business manager Tapuaki Finauga said: “As a Pacific Islands company, we identify with sports such as rugby where our Pacific people are passionate about the game. This is the energy we believe in, the energy of Pacific Islands people to work together and win.”