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Fiji's response to talk of Rugby Championship inclusion

By Ian Cameron
Players of Fiji as they celebrate after defeating Australia during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Fiji have said that while they’d welcome entry into the Rugby Championship, yesterday’s 22-15 victory over the Wallabies in St Etienne was ‘not about that’ and was about staying alive in Pool C of the Rugby World Cup.

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The Wallabies’ World Cup hopes suffered a hammer blow with the shock loss to Fiji – their first in the history of the tournament – to put a quarter-final berth at major risk. The undermanned Australians couldn’t match the power and pace of the Pacific islanders.

Fiji earned a scrum penalty after full-time and could have denied the Wallabies a crucial bonus point too, but Frank Lomani’s kick went wide of the posts.

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Enjoying their first win over Australia since 1954, Fiji sit second, also on six points, and have a two-week break before they face winless Georgia in Bordeaux with their first quarter-final appearance since 2007 beckoning.

While emotions were high in Fiji camp, head coach Simon Raiwalui cut an imperturbable figure in the post-match press conference and dismissed talk of Rugby Championship entry for another day.

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“It’s always about being included in those competitions but today was not about that, today was about winning this game and staying alive in the tournament. We have had that mindset from the beginning, if we do things right and prepare right we will be in every match. Yes, we want to be involved in those things moving forward but today is about today.

“If you get consistent results the rewards will come. Other teams are pushing for that as well. If a new tournament comes in, if those matches become available we have our hand up, we are ready.

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“There is a difference between the developed and developing nations but we have been very lucky with our sponsors.

“World Rugby have been a great support for us. We have prepared with what we have got, the best we can. We may not get the luxuries of the sports psychologists but we are lucky we have other things.

“We are able to bring in a reverend. You talk about mental well-being but our mental well-being is in connection with our religion and people. Our game and campaign is geared towards us being Fijians.

“We always want more resources but you have to make do with what you have. I would take more matches over resources. The more matches we get at this level – I’m talking outside of the World Cup – if Fiji can get these tier-one matches more regularly, you’ve seen what these boys can do when they get competition.

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“I’m emotionally drained at the moment. I’m really proud of the boys. It was a great contest, a great Australian side. We’re Pacific neighbours so we know each other well. It was a great match. It kept us guessing until the end.”

“I couldn’t be prouder. It’s not just today. It’s a culmination of the work we’ve done since the beginning of the campaign. We pushed the boys to the limits and they’ve never once complained. When you work hard, you get the results so I’m super proud of them.”

“We have two very hard games coming up now. We’ll review this game. I think there will be a few boys sore but I’m super proud.”

additional reporting AAP

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Comments

5 Comments
D
Duncan 276 days ago

Fiji have definitely come of age - getting a team in Super Rugby looks to have been the catalyst. Get them in the Rugby Championship. Hopefully other Island teams can follow

C
Chris 277 days ago

Fiji do look more than worthy of inclusion. I vote yes! Sadly NZ and Aus will never approve them, they would lose one of their 3 biggest rugby academies 😅 the other being Tonga and Samoa.

B
BR2B 277 days ago

Australia, alike England, are clueless.
Eddie Jones effect ?

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