Fiji rugby’s traditional champion – The glory days of Hakwa Nadro

Action from the Suva and Nadroga in the Skipper Cup final at the ANZ Stadium. Picture: RAMA/FILE

The Stallions had an empty trophy cabinet last year.

In 2019, Nadroga had the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy, which Namosi snatched from them from Lawaqa Park last year in round two.

The Stallions then lost the golden opportunity to regain the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy from Namosi after going down at Ratu Cakobau Park.

The Stallions then lost to Naitasiri in a close tussle, and returned from Ratu Cakobau Park with valuable lessons.

Since the Skipper Cup has taken a break, I’d like to recap on Nadroga’s days as Fiji’s champion.

In 2009, Nadroga faced Nadi in the final of the Digicel Cup.

Fans were excited to see a repeat of the 2008 Digicel Cup final which Nadi won after defeating Nadroga.

Nadi coach Iliesa Tanivula knew what to expect from Nadroga, and he fielded a strong team with the likes of Ravuama Samo, Sakeo Latianara, Viliame Seuseu, Niumaia Bari, Aca Bibi, Jona Tavai, Turuva Lumelume, Josateki Savou, Aporosa Vata, Sunia Vata, Eseroma Naba, Vuniani Bari, Adriu Delai, Vima Tuidraki and Sanaila Cava.

The visitors had the services of Tiko Matawalu (former Nadroga President), Seremaia Naureure, Apisai Turukawa, Manoa Tamaya, Rupeni Nasiga, Ratu Mosese Volavola, Semesa Gonevou, Asaeli Boko (current Namosi coach), Emosi Vucago, Jiuta Lutumailagi, Aporosa Tabulawaki, Jonetani Ratu, Joeli Lutumailagi, Maikeli Mocetadra and Simeli Koniferedi. Nadroga dethroned the Jetsetters as champions after the tough and bruising encounter.

The Stallions won 19-13, and broke Nadi hearts. Former 7s sensation Ratu Mosese Volavola was the hero as he scored the winning try four minutes from full time. Nadroga started with a bang, and the Stallions used quick balls to take play into Nadi’s territory.

Even with Emosi Vucago and Seru Naqasima in the sin bin and Nadroga playing with 13 players, the hosts failed to capitalise. Nauga paid tribute to his boys who defended well when Nadi had possession.

In 2010 against Naitasiri, Nadroga coach Esala Nauga opted for experience as he roped in the likes of Tiko Matawalu, Seremaia Naureure, Setefano Somoca, Nemani Nagusa, Rupeni Nasiga, Etonia Naba, Aca Ratuva, Ratu Mosese Volavola, Emosi Vucago, Jonetani Ralulu, Sakiusa Navaka, Josaia Lotawa, Joeli Lutumailagi, Maikeli Mocetadra and Simeli Koniferedi against the likes of Vesi Rarawa, Vereniki Sauturaga, Sireli Temo, Senivalati Vunibola, Apisai Ratuniyarawa, Avenisa Natowaika, Jimilai Naikadawa, Nikolai Baleitamavua, Waisale Vatuvoka, Kolinio Vunaki,Nasoni Rokobiau, Waisea Levula, Jo Black, Paula Tiko and Temesia Roko.

Lawaqa Park was a sea of white, red and black as Nadroga and Naitasiri fans poured in huge numbers, but the mighty Stallions were unsuccessful in defending the Digicel Cup after losing to Naitasiri in one of the greatest comebacks in Fiji rugby’s history.

Naitasiri dethroned Nadro as champs with a 25-24 win as the Stallions led 21-5 at the break. Year 2011 will be remembered by Nadro fans as it was Tiko Matawalu’s last year as a player.

Tiko ended on a high, winning the 2011 Digicel Cup final against Suva.

That will be touched on next week. As I conclude, I urge every Fijian to take care!

  • Rajnesh Lingam is a regular contributor to this newspaper and the views expressed are his own and do not reflect the views of this newspaper.

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