The elder statesman of Fiji, Seremaia Bai, was the notable omission Friday when Fiji coach John McKee named his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Fiji are in the so-called pool of death with England, Australia and Wales, and McKee said he had picked a squad which he was confident “will rise to the challenge”.
They go centre stage at the very start of the tournament, playing hosts England in the opening game.
Led by Montpellier flank Akapusi Qera the squad is dominated by overseas professionals with props Lee Roy Atalifo and Peni Ravai the only local amateurs to make the grade.
Glasgow Warriors have signed winger Junior Bulumakau from the British Army on a 1 year contract.
The 24-year-old, who has been training with the Warriors for the last couple of months, played in the 28 / 10 defeat to Clermont in the pre-season fixture in France last Friday and scored a spectacular try from the halfway line.
Junior was born in Fiji and moved to Scotland at the age of 10 with his parents. He has served as an infantryman with The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland since February 2010, deploying on overseas training exercises to Kenya and Cyprus.
He has played for Heriot’s in the BT Premiership, while in May he scored a try for the British Army and was named man of the match in their 36 / 18 win over the Royal Navy in front of 80 000 supporters at Twickenham.
He becomes the 2nd winger to join the club ahead of the new campaign, along with Taqele Naiyaravoro from the Waratahs, while Scotland 7s wingers Mark Robertson and Nyle Godsmark are training with the squad.
All Blacks wing sensation Waisake Naholo declared himself back in the running for a Rugby World Cup berth after a rapid recovery from a broken leg using traditional Fijian medicine.
The miracle cure was attributed to “a gift from God”, the Fiji Times reported.
Naholo cracked a fibia during his All Blacks debut against Argentina last month, and after initial treatment in New Zealand, the Fiji-born flyer was told he would be sidelined for 3 months, putting him out of World Cup contention.
The 24-year-old then turned his back on Western medicine and contacted an uncle in Fiji who specialises in traditional medicine and was told to return to the Pacific island, the Times said.
“If you want to play in the World Cup, get on the plane and come here,” the uncle, Isei Naiova, said he told Naholo from his home in Nadroumai village, which is renowned among indigenous communities for the healing powers of certain families.
Guinness PRO12 medal winners Leone Nakarawa (no. 5 lock) and Niko Matawalu (scrumhalf) played a big role in helping Fiji win the latest Pacific Nations Cup, beating Samoa in the final.
The Glasgow Warriors duo from the 2014/15 season crossed the line four times between them with Nakarawa dotting down twice. Matawalu scored one try but could easily have scored another, instead he crossed the try line after a trade mark scything break and then past the ball to his captain to score. The Warriors player of the season will be sorely missed at Scotstoun next season with the star scrumhalf having made a move to Bath.
For those who have not seen these two Fijians in action I would tip them as exciting players to watch out for during the Rugby World Cup.
Flyhalf Michael Stanley converted a penalty in the final moments as Samoa stormed back to tie Fiji 30 / 30 at the Pacific Nations Cup.
Anthony Perenise, Paul Perez and TJ Ioane each scored 2nd-half tries for Samoa, who beat the United States 21 / 16 in their opening game last Saturday.
In the other contests the United States of America (USA Eagles) held on to beat Japan 23 / 18 and Tonga stopped Canada 28 / 18.
Fullback Metuisela Talebula and Leone Nakarawa scored tries as Fiji wasted no time getting on the board before leading 17 / 10 at halftime.
Gabiriele Lovobalavu scored Fiji’s 4th try early in the 2nd half and, after flyhalf Ben Volavola converted to make it 27 / 10, it looked like the Fijians were off to the races.
But the Samoans roared back and were able to level the score at 27 / 27 with 5 minutes left in regulation time.
Volavola kicked a penalty 3 minutes later and Fiji were back on top by 3 points. That set the stage for Stanley’s penalty goal just before the final whistle to make it 30 / 30.
Samoa’s next game is Wednesday against winless Canada, while Fiji face Japan on the same day.
Fiji came from behind to beat Tonga 30 / 22 in a bone-jarring Pacific Nations Cup encounter in Suva on Saturday.
In a clash full of direct running and big tackles, Tonga had every chance to beat their island neighbours for the 1st time since 2011, leading 22 / 16 going into the last 15 minutes before their high error count caught up with them.
There were 3 tries apiece with Fiji scoring 2 of theirs as they controlled the closing stages to make a positive start to the 10th edition of the tournament.
The Pacific Nations Cup – which also includes Samoa, Japan, the United States and Canada – is being played under a new format this year with the 6 teams split into 2 pools.
Each team will play the 3 sides in the opposing pool before the top 2 sides play off for the Cup.
After trailing in the opening half, the Maori All Blacks came back to defeat an impressive Fijian team 27 / 26 at ANZ Stadium in Suva.
It was the side’s 305th victory in their 437th match against all opposition, and 20th victory against Fiji in 29 clashes against the Pacific Islanders.
The Maori All Blacks began pre-match proceedings with their traditional Haka, which was followed within seconds by the Fijian Cibi Tau.
The healthy crowd in Suva began to hum with the challenges of both teams being laid down – one had the feeling that wet and blustery conditions were not going to effect the ebb and flow of this one.
As it was between the World Champions and Samoa earlier this week, the Fijians came out with some serious intent, and Kini Murimurivalu gave the hosts the ideal start when, despite the efforts of Damian McKenzie, opened the scoring in the corner.
A few minutes of uncertainty from the Maori All Blacks was put aside as they eased into proceedings and managed to put hands on the ball, but despite this could not penetrate a rushing Fijian defence.
Fiji head coach John McKee has named a strong side to take on the Maori All Blacks this weekend in Suva.
Uncapped flyhalf Ben Volavolva, who has signed for the Crusaders from the Waratahs, could make his debut after being named on a strong bench alongside Masi Matadigo, Niko Matawalu and Napolioni Nalaga.
Akapusi Qera captains the side from No 8 while an exciting backline features Crusaders superstar Nemani Nadolo.
9 Of the 23 players are based in France.
McKee said: “I expect an open and fast moving game with both teams prepared to play a running game.”
Former Vodacom Bulls head coach Frans Ludeke could be heading to the World Cup in England in September as part of the Fijian coaching staff.
The 47-year-old stepped down as the Bulls’ head coach in June and is set to be heading to the Pacific Island where he will link up with the Fijians as they begin preparations for the global showpiece.
World-Cup winning Springbok lock Victor Matfield, who is eyeing the Bulls coaching job, revealed that Ludeke was off to Fiji to help the Islanders in the World Cup.
“It’s always sad to see someone go but sometimes the time for change comes. I’ve learned so much from Frans and there are so many players who also learned a lot from him during the 8 seasons with the Bulls.
“I think he’s going to Fiji to help them with the World Cup and I wish him success with that as well,” Matfield said.
The last leg of the 2014 / 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series took place in London England this Saturday and Sunday 16 and 17 May 2015 from 09:00 BST (10:00 SA Time) both days.
All the action was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on Saturday and on SuperSport 1 (Sunday) on TV in South Africa.
After 8 Rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand battled it out for the 16th World Series title in London.
Following their victory at the Glasgow Sevens last weekend, Fiji headed into the 9th and Final Round of the Series in 1st spot – with Ben Ryan’s side aiming to win their 1st Series title since 2006.
Not since 2010 has a side other than New Zealand won it, but with Fiji on 147 points and South Africa on 142 prior to this tournament, the 4-time defending champions had their work cut out to win a 13th World Series title as they sat 3rd on 139 Log Points, prior to this tournament.
New Zealand fell out of the race for the ultimate World Series title when England beat them in the quarter-final and the same fate befell South Africa’s Blitzbokke as they persihed against Fiji by 7 / 19 in the quarter-finals in London, the same fate which befell them in Glasgow.
Having led the Series since Round 2 the BlitzBokke failed to make the Cup semi-finals for the 1st time all season in Glasgow and now again in London.
It is a tight race to see who takes the Series in Twickenham with Fiji leading the way, and the pools for the London leg have been confirmed.
After their Cup win at the 8th Round of the Series in Glasgow, Fiji are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up New Zealand, 3rd-placed England and the 4th semifinalist USA head the remaining pools.
The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides in the series qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. Following their performances in Glasgow, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand have all confirmed their place in Rio, with just the 4th and final spot still be decided.
Free-scoring Fiji rugby Sevens powerhouse Semi Kunatani has joined French Top 14 club Toulouse on a 2-year deal, the club said on Tuesday.
The rampaging 24-year-old can play as a lock, flank or wing and with 37 international tries since his debut in 2013 he is seen as one of the best sevens players in the world.
South Africa collected 17 valuable World Series log points on Sunday after they defeated Samoa 26 / 5 to finish 3rd at the popular Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
The Blitzboks now have a 2 point lead (110 points) at the top of the standings after Fiji outplayed New Zealand by 33 / 19 to lift the Cup.
The tournament win moved Fiji into 2nd spot, just 1 point ahead of 3rd-placed NZ. The top 4 teams on the league table at the end of the season qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The teams will be in action in Japan next weekend where they will play in the Tokyo Sevens on 4 and 5 April.
The Springbok Sevens staged a magnificent comeback in their Cup semi-final against Fiji. Unfortunately for them, that was not good enough and they suffered a heart-breaking 21 / 15 loss against the Pacific islanders.
Another Pacific Island nation has fallen foul of the international controlling body of the sport, World Rugby, over the political meddling of its government.
A letter leaked from World Rugby has shown the organisation’s anger at the Fijian government’s seizure of television rights for Sevens and their intention to make it only available to a state owned network at no cost.
Its angry tone hints that Fiji faces a black out of next month’s Wellington tournament and they could also potentially miss out on this year’s 15-man World Cup.
World Rugby (the renamed International Rugby Board) explicitly says any failure to broadcast rugby in Fiji will not be their fault, but the fault of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s government.
After climbing into the top four after two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Australia and New Zealand know it’s far too early to rest on their laurels with Olympic qualification also up for grabs this season.
As the 16 captains assemble for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, Australian skipper Ed Jenkins and his New Zealand counterpart DJ Forbes reflect on their respective team’s elevation to the all-important top four after the first two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.
The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.
The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.
Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.
On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.
South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.
The Pacific Islands may yet get a taste of Super Rugby, with the Crusaders considering shifting their home match against the Hurricanes to Fiji next year.
The Fiji Village website reported that planning was underway for the seven-time Super Rugby champions to play the Hurricanes in Suva after a sponsor came forward to underwrite the move.
A Crusaders spokesman could not confirm the switch Thursday, saying there were a number of options under consideration with their usual second-choice home venues of Nelson and Timaru also in the mix.
“It’s too soon to comment on what may go ahead,” she said.
Former Fiji wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca has ended his unhappy second stint with French second division side Agen by mutual consent.
Caucaunibuca, more commonly referred to simply as Caucau, had played only 87 minutes for the Pro D2 side this season, having returned for a second spell following a highly successful first stint from 2004-09.
Back then, when Agen were in the French Top 14, Caucau twice finished as top try-scorer in the league.
He moved on to giants Toulouse in 2010 and then in 2012 returned to Northland in New Zealand, where he had also played Super Rugby for the Blues.
Agen said the explosive 34-year-old had asked to have his contract terminated.
Only one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!
Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.
The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.
The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:
Fiji (15) 20 / 14 (0) USA (Final Score)
Fiji and the USA Eagles did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Stade De La Rabine, Vannes, France at 20:00 SA Time (19:00 French Time, 18:00 GMT, 13:00 Can Eastern Time, 07:00 Saturday Fiji Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was STREAMED LIVE by World Rugby (IRB) at http://www.worldrugby.org
USA captain Todd Clever will make a welcome return to the starting XV when the Eagles conclude their November tour against Fiji in Vannes, France on Saturday.
Another inclusion into the starting XV will see Ronald McLean earn his first International cap at fullback after he joined the team ahead of their 12-40 loss to Tonga last week.
Taku Ngwenya will look to add to his international try tally when he starts on the wing while Tim Stanfill, who has scored a try in two consecutive matches to begin his young international career, will earn his fourth cap.
Thretton Palamo and Seamus Kelly will hope to create chances from the center positions. Palamo’s second start since returning to the game, will be his fifth cap since making his Eagles debut at the 2007 World Cup.
John McKee has made seven changes to the Fiji run on team that will play against USA this weekend.
McKee said that his selection was based on the form in matches against France and Wales.
“I have named a very strong team for this match based on form in matches against France and Wales and I am also taking into consideration giving the opportunity to players who did not feature in the first and second matches”.
Fiji prop Campese Ma’afu was suspended for a week for being sent off for two yellow-card offenses in the 17-13 loss to Wales at Cardiff last weekend.
Ma’afu appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.
Wales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.
Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo will take his place at inside centre for Fiji when they face off against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys’ contingent in Warren Gatland’s Wales selection will come up against a familiar foe in the form of Josh Matavesi, who has been named at flyhalf for the opposition.
It will be Matavesi’s seventh international cap but his first for almost exactly two years, his last international appearance coming at Twickenham in November 2012 when he came off the bench against England.
The 24-year old missed Fiji’s defeat to France last Saturday due to a shoulder injury.
Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins will captain a rejigged Wales team for their clash with Fiji at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, head coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday.
Gatland has elected to make eight changes to the team beaten 33-28 by Australia last weekend, although there is no place in the starting XV for recalled Gloucester fly-half James Hook.
Jenkins takes over from Paul James in the front row, while Scott Baldwin of Ospreys will make his first Wales start at hooker.
Flanker Sam Warburton, the regular captain, is being rested, but there are recalls in the backs for fit-again centre Scott Williams, fly-half Rhys Priestland and scrum-half Mike Phillips.
Nine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.
Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.
In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.
On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.
It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.
Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.
The results of the weekend are as follows:
Flying Fijians coach John McKee named a powerful side to take on France in their first Test match for the November tour, when the two sides meet in Marseille on Saturday.
McKee said they selected the strongest team possible and that the players understand the challenge ahead.
“The forward pack from the June Tests is boosted by the addition of Masi Matadigo, who has been in very good form for Lyon in France Top 14.”
“Lepani Botia comes in at inside centre he is also playing Top 14 and can mix the direct game with the passing game. Nemani Nadolo has only joined the team this week due to some injury issues delaying his arrival. Expect him to have big impact when he enters the game from the reserves.
“For the players they understand the challenge ahead. The important thing for us is to have very good knowledge of our game plan and be able to stick to it under immense pressure.
South African-born fullback Scott Spedding will make his international debut when he runs out for France against Fiji in Marseille on Saturday.
The Bayonne player represented South Africa Under-21 in the 2006 World Championship and will be joined by fellow South African Rory Kockott, who starts the match on the bench.
The 28-year-old, who joined Bayonne from Brive in 2012, was brought into the squad on Wednesday for the November Test series by coach Philippe Saint-Andre following an injury to first-choice fullback Brice Dulin.
Clermont wing Napolioni Nalaga will miss Fiji’s November Tests against France, Wales and the United States due to family reasons, Fiji coach John McKee told AFP.
The prolific 28-year-old has scored nine tries in 16 internationals for Fiji, but won’t be adding to that this month.
“He expressed that he didn’t want to be considered for this tour,” said McKee.
“That is his decision, he had some family things to attend to. I respect that.”
There has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.
Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.
The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.
Fiji have qualified as Oceania 1 for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England by beating the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka. The Flying Fijians scored 17 unanswered tries in a runaway victory in front of their adoring home fans at Churchill Park.
Fiji join hosts England, Australia, Wales and the yet to be determined Repechage winner in Pool A, and will have the honour of playing England at Twickenham in the opening match of the tournament on 18 September.
Fiji opened their defence of the 2014 Pacific Nations Cup with a bonus-point 45-17 victory over Tonga in Suva on Saturday.
Watisoni Votu and Sireli Bobo, who missed last week’s warm-up match against Italy, both scored twice with Nemani Nadolo and captain Akapusi Qera also registering a try.
Nadolo contributed 20 points in the match with a try, six conversions and a penalty.
He had Fiji on the board within three minutes of the start with a penalty as they raced to a 24-3 lead by halftime.
Samisoni Viriviri’s name was called out at a function following the London Sevens at Twickenham, the final Round of the 2013 / 2014 HSBC Sevens World Series won by New Zealand.
He becomes the first Fijian to win the award since it was first presented in 2004, having finished the season with 52 tries.
The Springbok Sevens lost 33-26 to Fiji in a thrilling, epic Tokyo Sevens Cup Final after the Pacific Islanders managed to score a brilliant and trademark long range winning try with just second remaining on the clock.
However, despite the disappointment of losing their tournament title in what must surely rank as one of the all-time great HSBC Sevens World Series Cup Finals, the South Africans did manage to regain the lead on the overall standings.