Fijians making inroads

Ian Prior of the Force passes the ball during the round seven NRC match between Western Force and Fiji Drua at UWA Sports Park on October 13, 2018 in Perth, Australia. Picture: SUPPLIED/NRC

RUGBY union continues to rise above other sports in the country with the Fiji Airways Drua winning performance in the Australian National Rugby Championship the latest success story.

Last Saturday in rugby Town Sigatoka the Sannix Secondary Schools world rugby champion Ratu Kadavulevu School under-18 team, celebrated its victory with families and former students marching across the Melrose Bridge with the Australian Sevens trophy, local rugby league trophy and under-14, U15, U16, U18, U19 Zero Deans trophies’ even the Coca-Cola Games athletics trophy.

The bridge is in remembrance of Fiji’s two-time world champion in sevens rugby world cup to win the Melrose Cup and of the late ‘Steelman’ Aminiasi Naituyaga, one of the heroes of 1997 victory of Nayawa Village.

From the Laselase side of the bridge hails the openside flanker of the champion Lodoni team Ilikimi Torosi, son of former Nadroga flanker Samu Vunaki and in the footsteps of Olympian gold medallist Apisai Domolailai.

It was a fitting occasion to display a world champion side on a world champion bridge in the heart of rugby land.

The celebration continued in Sigatoka Village grounds during the annual reunion and bazaar of RKS former students, parents and they were joined by their fellow QVS and ACS former students.

QVS was the only team to break the Lodoni dominance and they took the under-17 title and will have to defend the SANNIX trophy in 2019.

RKS super coach Nacanieli Saumi shocked rugby pundits when his well-drilled side displayed a class of their own to beat teams from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to win the final in Japan early this year.

Not only are we established champions of sevens rugby we are showing the world that we are equally good at the full code and the Lodonians and Drua performances prove this.

As the Drua make their way down to Churchill Park to take on Canberra Vikings in the semi-final they can be assured of the great support they will receive from the westerners, the families and avid fans of rugby union of past decades who know the boys will proudly carry on the legacy of their forefathers.

Eight of the players will make the Flying Fijian tour of the Northern Hemisphere and the Drua performance has also inspired Flying Fijians coach John McKee who now plans to revitalise their performance to be explosive in both backs and forwards if they are to match Tier One nations.

McKee said they could not match Tier One nations if they had slow forwards and Fiji would have to be dynamic in all facets of play.

The Vikings is a champion side and had beaten the Drua once under icy conditions last year.

They showed surprising enterprise to come close to almost winning two weeks ago at a scorching Churchill Park.

The rain will be in their favour and Senirusi Seruvakula’s side may have to change tactics by using the boot to drop balls by the opposition and be wary that this could also be the opposition ploy as they have proven to be wily and resourceful.

The Horan-Little trophy is a prestigious one and the Drua have stolen that from the Aussies after finishing at the top in the NRC.

Tim Horan and Jason Little were a formidable inside back combination that took Australia to many memorable victories internationally.

Another vintage performance by the Drua will guarantee a spot in the final and already the signs tell of much greater things to come in Fijian rugby union.

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