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‘Make some history’: Fiji assistant coach on ‘surreal’ win over England

By Finn Morton
Fiji celebrate their historic victory at the final whistle during the Summer International match between England and Fiji at Twickenham Stadium on August 26, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Flying Fijians assistant coach Glen Jackson has reflected on the “pretty surreal” win over Steve Borthwick’s England at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

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With just two weeks to go until the upcoming Rugby World Cup, Fiji made history by beating England for the first time in seven meetings.

It was one of the greatest days in the history of Fijian Rugby. Fiji leapfrogged England on the World Ranking rankings too as they surged up to seventh place.

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Playing at one of the most famous rugby stadiums in the world, Fiji fell behind 8-nil after a try to England wing Jonny May in the ninth minute. But the visitors were always in the fight, and showed plenty of resilience as they fought their way into the lead.

Fiji went down to 14 men after a yellow card to Eroni Mawi just before the break, but ended up taking the lead inside the opening five minutes of the second term. The rest was history as they held on for a historic 22-30 win.

“It was pretty surreal,” Jackson said on The Platform. “One of our big things during the week was (to) be the first team to beat England and make some history on the way to the World Cup.

Points Flow Chart

Fiji win +8
Time in lead
37
Mins in lead
38
46%
% Of Game In Lead
48%
61%
Possession Last 10 min
39%
0
Points Last 10 min
7

“It’s certainly great for the boys to come off with the victory in such a great place to play rugby in. It gives us a fair bit of confidence going into the World Cup in a couple of weeks.”

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Jackson, who represented the Chiefs during his playing days and later became a world-renowned referee, has been an assistant coach with Fiji for a few years.

After taking up the role under former coach Vern Cotter, Jackson has stayed on as the teams attack and backs coach under new boss Simon Raiwalui.

The rugby guru has been in the role for quite some time, and has seen a telling change in how the team plays when they have “a really good build-up.”

“We won three games with Samoa and Tonga and then Japan, so it gave us a fair of confidence coming out of that,” the former referee added.

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“Then we played France last week and I thought the boys actually played pretty well against France. They’re a big old team.

“It’s been a really good buildup for us, and having the boys together for eight weeks already, it gives us a real good chance to work on things that you probably don’t do in small campaigns with the Fijian boys.

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“Normally, November internationals or the Autumn November window, you get them the first week before the game so you don’t really get any chance to be able to implement the things that you need to.

“Obviously it helps with the Drua now and the other being with us at the Drua, so we at least get some continuity there.

“This is definitely the biggest build-up we’ve had and it’s needed to go into such a big tournament.”

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