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'Gutted' Fiji coach knows exactly what they need to do before England

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 08: Isoa Nasilasila of Fiji looks dejected at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Fiji and Portugal at Stadium de Toulouse on October 08, 2023 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Fiji’s Rugby World Cup 2023 journey has been nothing short of dramatic. After coming painfully close to beating Wales, then successfully upsetting the Wallabies, they have qualified for the next round, albeit after a disappointing 24-23 loss to Portugal in a thrilling finale to the pool.

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“We are pretty gutted,” says kicking coach Seremaia Bai following Sunday night’s defeat to minnows Portugal.

“We are disappointed with the result but at the same time we had a goal in mind, to make it to the quarter-finals, so we are looking forward to this coming week. It was a tough pool for us to get out of and we are glad that we made it to the quarters.

“We will make sure that we tighten up where we need to tighten up.”

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“You have to give credit to Portugal. We knew they were going to be a tough team to crack. As for us, we probably didn’t get the ball [enough] to get the momentum going the way that we would like to play and that is probably one of the factors we really need to look at.

“It was a beautiful stadium, the crowd was amazing and it was great to be a part of it yesterday.”

Fiji’s victory against England in a warm-up match at Twickenham in August has left the squad with a sense of confidence for the task ahead.

“It gives us great confidence going in to the game that we have beaten them, but the most important thing in a playoff is that anything can happen so we have to regroup, re-focus and we will have to prepare well for this resilient English side.

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“It reminds me of the 2007 tournament where everybody wrote England off [but they reached the Rugby World Cup final]. They have shown how good they are, with players who have played on the big stage. We respect that and take it on board. Now we need to see how we can come back and do well in this quarter-final.

“They’ve got a great kicking game, though I think they tend to run the ball more in this World Cup. Some of the individuals are world-class players. They have good set-pieces – lineouts and scrums – and some big ball carriers, so they are strong across the board.”

A fan favourite team – perhaps until Portugal came along – Fiji have captured the hearts of neutrals in France.

“We are far away from home. The crowds have been amazing. When we were in Bordeaux the fans were amazing and in Toulouse the people were amazing. I think it helps a lot, especially when the game is getting tougher. To have a bit of noise at your back is great.”

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Fiji made a large amount of uncharacteristic errors, losing the ball in contact and failing to capitalize on the kind of attacking opportunities that we’ve become accustomed to from their strike runners. Looking ahead to their quarter-final clash with England, Bai outlined Fiji’s plans for the week.

“The boys will need to recover for a bit. We’ll be travelling to Marseille today and tomorrow have a walk-through session, for clarity, and then have training sessions before our captain’s run.”

Knockout

New Zealand
South Africa
11 - 12
Final
Argentina
New Zealand
6 - 44
SF1
England
South Africa
15 - 16
SF2
Wales
Argentina
17 - 29
QF1
Ireland
New Zealand
24 - 28
QF2
England
Fiji
30 - 24
QF3
France
South Africa
28 - 29
QF4
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Comments

1 Comment
B
Ben 253 days ago

Portugal’s coach should be named coach of the tournament, his players have shown exceptional skills, great moves. Been my favourite team to watch.

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