Taveuni on alert

MANA Whey Fiji Coral Coast 7s champion First Light Taveuni has stepped up preparation to defend its title at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka, next week.

The islanders have shifted camp to Suva from the island to try and retain the trophy and win the $20,000 main prizemoney.

Coach Filikesa Ratu said his side had two survivors from last year’s winning team.

“They are Eroni Vucago and our captain Lemeki Tulele. The rest are new players,” he said.

Some members of the victorious side formed another team called the Cross of Victory, which is also playing in the tournament.

“We are on alert because all teams want to beat us,” the soft-spoken Ratu said.

Other members of the team include Fiji Airways 7s extended squad members Glenn Cakautini and Abele Tuirabe.

The four-day tournament was launched at the Goodman Fielder International Fiji Ltd boardroom at Vatuwaqa, Suva yesterday.

Its general manager Chris Zaayman called on Fijians to witness some of the country’s best 7s action in the tournament.

“We are proud to be the major sponsor of the Mana Whey Fiji Coral Coast Sevens,” Zaayman said.

“What we are super proud of is that we are making the entry free for the four days. It is important to make the event accessible to the people of Fiji so that we can see the talents and enjoy it and make it a fun day.”

Tournament founder Jay Whyte said the men’s cup winner would get $20,000, the youth and women’s champions $10,000 each.

“The fairytale story of 2017 was the First Light Taveuni team that came through which showed what dedication and hard work can do. I still remember the first call I received that the team wanted to qualify and little did we know that two months later, they won their first trophy,” he said.

“We are very grateful to our partners Mana Whey for the tremendous support that they have given for the tournament. Without sponsors like Mana Whey, such events would not be possible. Their sponsorship once again throws the gate open for spectators of Fiji to once again come out and discover the 7s passion.

“There are four days of great rugby starting with the Uprising Youth 7s on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by the Crest Na Iri competition on Thursday and Friday and through to Saturday with the men’s tournament.”

Meanwhile, the men’s pools were released by tournament chairman Jay Whyte.

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