Yasawa to play for late rugby administrator

Yasawa rugby side at Churchill park in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

YASAWA will defend the Bainimarama Shield against Nanukuloa at Churchill Park in Lautoka this afternoon.

The islanders will dedicate the game to renowned Lautoka sports administrator, Saimone Naivalu who died last weekend.

Commonly known as ‘Master’, Naivalu, a former school teacher, was the district representative of Nacula Island in the Yasawa Group.

Naivalu was a popular announcer at rugby matches and 7s tournaments, especially in the Western Division for many years.

He was announcing during the Vodafone Vanua Cup final between Lautoka and Yasawa at Prince Charles Park in Nadi last weekend when he suddenly collapsed and was rushed to the hospital where he later died.

Naivalu was well acquainted with media personnel always acknowledging their presence at match venues and even had nicknames for some such as ‘The Flying Quva’ for The Fiji Times photographer Baljeet Singh.

Members of the Yasawa team were the pallbearers during Naivalu’s funeral in Lautoka yesterday.

Yasawa Rugby Union secretary Akuila Ratu said Naivalu contributed a lot to the sport, especially in the organisation of the annual Nacula 7s tournament.

Ratu said Naivalu would be missed by all, especially those who knew him in the rugby fraternity.

“His sudden death came as a shock to the Yasawa community,” Ratu said.

“We will play this match in his memory. It was a tough battle against Lautoka last week.

“Some of our key players have been ruled out because of injuries sustained from that fixture, so the boys from the extended squad have been included to fill in the void.”

The Yasawa vs Nanukuloa match will kick off at 3.30pm.

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