Rugby growth

FIJI Airways Fijiana captain Ana Roqica has defied all odds to play rugby as she battles to change the mind-sets of people who consider rugby as a men’s sport.

Roqica will lead the Fijiana side in the 2017 Oceania 7s which kicks off today at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

“We are currently rated in the top four in the world standings,” she said in a press release.

“Since I started playing rugby, the crowd used to tell us that it’s a ‘men’s sport’… now they really love how the women have been playing rugby.”

She said she was proud to represent Fiji.

“Rugby is my passion. Growing up in my village in Tavua, I used to play rugby with the boys and I’ve grown to love rugby,” she said.

“It’s that coconut tree on the jersey that makes us proud, as it’s not just about myself but my family and my country.”

Oceania Rugby president Richard Sapias said involving women and girls, men and boys, more equally in rugby is central to the strategic goals of Oceania Rugby and also its new working partnership with UN Women, global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

“Everyone is committed to opening the door to women and girls in rugby, and we know there is more we can still achieve. Today, we are making progress, and it’s great to see record numbers of women players, and an increase in female coaches, managers as well as workforce staff here at the 2017 Oceania Sevens,” he said.

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