Veteran Fijian Akapusi Qera has pitched up at level five in England as the new player-coach of Midlands Premier club Newport Salop. The 36-year-old had spent the past two seasons at Championship side Hartpury.
Capped 64 times by his country in a 13-year Test career that saw him skipper them at the 2015 World Cup and bring the curtain down with a 2018 appearance versus Tonga, Qera has enjoyed a reputable club career on the European scene.
Impressive performances with Pertemps Bees resulted in a switch to the Premiership in 2007 and he went on to spend six-and-a-half seasons at Gloucester before half a season at Toulouse preceded three seasons at Montpellier and one more at Agen.
He returned to England in 2018, hooking up with second-tier Hartpury, and he now takes on a dual role at grassroots Newport who last season finished third in the Midlands Premier, 24 points behind table-topping Bournville despite 14 wins in 19 matches.
The recruitment of Qera is the latest boost for the Shropshire-based club who recently raised £200,000 to secure its future at the Old Showground. The club paid an upfront lease premium that ensures it can stay for the next 99 years and use the ground rent-free.
After great news of our 99 year lease for the show ground, we have more exciting news to give you. Please welcome Akapusi Qera, 65 caps for @fijirugby and ex Toulouse, Montpellier and @gloucesterrugby. He joins us as a player coach for the 1st team squad. Welcome to the PORT Q pic.twitter.com/Tfu9z2C93l
— Newport Salop RUFC (@NewportSalopRFC) July 15, 2020
Club chairman Peter Maher told the Shropshire Star: “We are delighted that the deal has now been completed. Securing a long term arrangement at the Old Showground is crucial to the survival and development of the club.
“It has been a mammoth effort by many in the club over a number of years to raise the lease premium through fundraising events, donations and a debenture scheme.
“Although current activities had been curtailed by Covid-19, now that the club’s position is secure, the town can look forward with confidence that we will continue to improve the club’s facilities and provide an opportunity for the Newport community to enjoy everything the club has to offer both on and off the pitch.”
Tasty signing https://t.co/hVakvk1uBr
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 16, 2020
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