Confirmed – Fijiana XVs to play in 2021 RWC

Mela Matanatabu on attack for Fijiana against Samoa during the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

THE song “Vanua Domoni” reverberated the loudest at Churchill Park in Lautoka as the Fijiana XV rewrote the history books to earn the solitary spot at stake to the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup
in New Zealand after thrashing a game Manusina XV team 41-13 in the Oceania Rugby Women’s
Championships 2019 qualifying final yesterday.

“Vanua Domoni” is the unofficial anthem of the country’s rugby teams and evokes the pride and identity of Fijians here and abroad speaking of the love and longing for Fiji –– the beloved land where happiness finds you.

The Manusina playing with a slight wind advantage had the upper hand in the first 20 minutes of the match camping in theFijiana’s half which resulted in a try being scored on the left hand corner to Bella Milo who played at first receiver and her successful conversion from the sideline saw Samoa leading 7-0.

The Manusina XV slowly faded away to relentless pressure from the Fijiana XV’s who were all over the blue brigade from the second quarter until the conclusion of the match as reminiscent of the scoreline.

Robust flanker Lavenia Tinai was a constant menace to the Manusina XV displaying a terrier like attitude while Rusila Nagasau was the ‘go to man’ igniting the speedy backline into motion like a well-oiled machine with both girls determined to gain valuable ground every time they ran the ball.

Rejieli Uluinayau who is the legendary Alfred Uluinayau’s first cousin put on a master-class performance and was the vital cog in the Fijiana’s triumph linking brilliantly with the backline with timely deliveries from the base.

Defence was not up to scratch for the Samoan women leaving too many gaps in the line giving the Fijians all the breaks they needed and the female Flying Fijians were actually flying – playing like men possessed and tackling anything and everything in blue to the wild cheers from the fans.

The half time score was 24-13 in favour of the hosts.

“When I arrived at FRU in 2015 there was no women’s competition.

In two years we have reaped the fruits of hard labour and I thank the development officers for a wonderful job,” an elated FRU CEO John O’Connor commented

“More quality international matches are lined up for the Fijiana XVs team next year; we are even looking at sending some of the girls to play in New Zealand clubs so yes there is plenty of opportunities for females in the sport of rugby and am immensely proud of the girls for creating history today,” he said.

“Having said that, there is a lot of work to do as far as women’s rugby is concerned but yes hats off to the girls for creating history.”

The head coach of the Fiji Airways Fijiana XV Ro Alivereti Doviverata echoed similar sentiments.

The captain of the Fijiana XVs Sereima Leweniqila urged women to ‘try their hands at rugby because it is a sport which will take you to places and make you world famous’ whilst expressing her gratitude to the FRU’s support towards the development of women’s rugby in the country.

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