The greatest night in 7s rugby

IT has been a year since Fiji 7s rugby team won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, but it seems only yesterday with memories still fresh in the minds of all Fijians who witnessed the win.

The Fiji Rugby Union organised a dinner night to mark the first anniversary of the gold medal win at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva last Friday. The event was described as “The greatest night in Fiji rugby history dinner” attended by 300 people.

Fijian Prime Minister and FRU president, Voreqe Bainimarama made the announcement of bidding for Fiji to host a leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as early as 2020.

“Our men’s Fiji team has been renowned as one of the finest exponents of running 7s rugby for decades and we have been a dominant force on the international stage.

“But our country doesn’t currently have a major international Sevens event that places us properly on the world stage. We do not have a major sevens event that befits our position as Olympics Men’s Rugby 7s Champions,” he said.

“As the president of the Fiji Rugby Union, I am delighted to announce that the FRU will be bidding for a Fijian leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to be played here in our country.

“In the not too distant future when that bidding process commences, the FRU and Fiji will be submitting a bid and putting our best foot forward to host such an event. The opportunity to host a leg may be as early as 2020, it may be later, but we want Fiji to be ready when that time comes.”

Mr Bainimarama was also present with the team during the tournament. He said he could remember how the entire nation was transfixed during the Olympics following the every second of the tournament.

“We remember the joy and happiness the victory brought to our nation and the pride we felt when our 7s heroes were crowned the Olympics champion.

“The sacrifices, hard work, discipline, and skills were rightfully rewarded,” he said.

“Our rugby history tells us that we are the small nation that believes in its greatness and that would help us achieve great things. Our Fiji 7s men’s team has been renowned as one of the finest in the world for decades. We have a long history of success on the international stage and it is hard to count the victories in all the tournaments over the many years.

“We have won the Hong Kong 7s title 17 times much more than our nearest rivals, New Zealand who have won 11 times.

“We want World Rugby to see the passion of our people, the support of our country and the unique Fijian way. We believe that we can mount a credible, professional bid which addresses the needs of modern tournaments. “We are announcing this tonight to send the message that Fiji will do what is necessary to present a compelling bid. We are asking our Fijian people to show their support.

“We have the players, we have the will. We have a government who understands the benefits of showcasing our country to an international audience and attracting tourism and investment. We have a corporate sector who are marketing themselves to a global audience, but most importantly we have a people with a passion for rugby and a passion for sevens.”

Former Fiji 7s manager, Ropate Kauvesi said he would cherish the win throughout his lifetime.

“It was a moment which you would never forget especially in my lifetime seeing and standing at the sideline for the last three minutes and watch the game go by and I cannot actually describe it, but I am reliving it every day,” he said.

“When the national anthem was being sung (at the event), it took me back to the Olympics watching the flag go up for the first time and national anthem being heard for the first time in the arena. The players knew that we would win even before the players ran on the field.”

Fiji 7s team will defend their gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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