Hong Kong 7s fever
4 April, 2018, 12:00 am
The world came to a standstill in 1992 to applaud the magical Fiji 7s side which was universally recognised and acknowledged as an outstanding 7s team.
Fiji had done what no other sporting nation had ever done — win a hat-trick at Happy Valley against the traditional giants of rugby NZ.
As I put pen to paper, I pay tribute to our warriors the late Kiti Vesikula, Saukawa, Serevi, Dere, Tabulutu, Rauluni brothers, Tom Cama, Vonolagi, Rasari, Niko, Nadruku and Wainiqolo.
In 1990 our national side made headlines for scoring a try that went into history books as the finest try scored at the So Kon Po Stadium.
Prior to the 1990 final, Fiji and NZ had met in 1984 which went Fiji’s way 26-0 and in 1987 which went NZ’s way.
Fiji had appeared in six finals and won four while NZ had appeared in five and won three.
The All Blacks started the 1990 final strongly and with the likes of Rush, Gallagher, Schuster, Brooke, Seymour and Bishop took a commanding lead with tries to Seymour and Rush.
Fiji clawed its way back into the intense final with a try to Nadruku to trail 10-6 going into the break.
Our boys confronted the All Blacks physically and put up some bruising and bone crunching tackles.
The sensational try which attracted thousands started when Rauluni threw a wild pass to Serevi with the defence closing in.
Serevi quickly tapped it over his head to Nadruku, who threw it between his legs to the flying Tom Cama who ran around Gallagher for a try.
Rasari scored two more beautiful tries as Fiji earned a well-deserved 22-10 win.
Fans invaded the pitch.
Like the 1990 final, the 1991 final was a close affair.
Fans in HK were fascinated by the Fijians who were like that steam engine that never gave up.
The cibi and haka drove fear and brought out the best.
Tries to Nadruku and Dere ensured a handsome 8-0 lead but two tries to Pearce gave the Kiwis the upper hand.
Serevi showed his class with a well-orchestrated little kick chip to score. Lam drew 1 back and the score was 14-14.
Finally, Wainiqolo powered and stretched his hand to the tryline and Fiji was declared remarkable winners 18-14.
The 1992 final was played in atrocious and muddy conditions and Paula Bale donned the black jumper.
Fiji beat France and Australia while NZ beat Samoa and Korea.
It was one-way traffic.
Rasari showed that he had power as he completed a hat-trick while Fili Seru got on the score sheet.
Fiji won 22-6 and although the Kiwis scored a late try, Vesi Rauluni was shouldered on to the podium to lift the cup.
The question that commentator Nigel Starmer Smith had was “would anyone ever beat them?”