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Rugby Championship inclusion would be massive - Fiji coach

Fiji celebrate after upsetting Australia

Following Fiji’s famous 22-15 win over the Wallabies in Pool C on Sunday, kicking ocach Seremaia Bai has reflected on what was a historic occasion and highly structured and clinical performance.

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Bai, who played 53 times for his country, spoke on Monday about how the Fijian Drua’s rise to prominence in recent years has positively impacted the team’s progress.

“I think it has massively. You can see the result yesterday. Previously we have our domestic competition, the Skipper Cup – provincial local comp in Fiji. We select local based players from there and then you try and match them with the professionals [who play] overseas. There’s no real professionalism at the local comp, it has taken a bit of time for them to adjust.

“With Drua you see not only do they try and educate them around being professional, they also give them game time, quality game time at the super level I think it’s a massively positive for the development of rugby and you can see the way most of the boys who played in the Drua it’s really improved the performance of the team.”

Late in the game against Australia, Fiji got a penalty that they could have easily kicked out for a guaranteed win, but instead opted to go for the posts and try to get the Wallabies out of that losing bonus point territory. It missed, but Bai said that they are certainly aware of how crucial the points will be in a tight pool.

“Definitely, that’s the reason the boys opted for a late penalty which didn’t go our way. We will have a team meeting soon and we will talk about the different scenarios we will come up against. We will make sure we take it game-by-game,” he said.

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Try scored Josua Tuisova limped off in the 67th minute with what appeared to be a lower limb injury.

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“It’s a just slight roll [his ankle] injury for him, we have a bye week so it gives more time to recover. But in terms of [the team], all players are just niggling from yesterday’s physicality.”

After two really impressive performances in a row, including nearly beating Wales the week before, there is suddenly talk of inclusion in The Rugby Championship.

“Definitely, it would be a massive, massive boost for such a small country as Fiji,” said of the prospect.

“If you want to be the best you have to play with the best and New Zealand and Australia are not far away from Fiji. I think you have seen the local boys playing for Drua, the second year they managed to reach the quarter-final so imagine how we can perform as a national team consistently.

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“I’ll give you an example, I played for Fiji for probably 14 years but I only played 53 Test matches. As guys from Australia and New Zealand they may only play six years and manage to play 100 Test matches. You can see the difference between gaining that experience versus the tier-two nation where we always struggle to be competing sustainably at the highest level. We need to have a crack and participate.”

As we’ve seen with the likes of Samoa, Bai says that the new eligibility laws will certainly benefit Fiji in the future.

“It will be a big bonus because I think players who played previously in tier-one nations such as All Blacks and Australia coming back would give us and the Fijian boys the mindset that they learn from. It will be a benefit for the players and the environment but do keep in mind we have a lot of young local talent. That’s the beauty of rugby in Fiji, the amount of talent we have.”

Fiji’s now have a bit of a break before facing Georgia in Bordeaux on Saturday, 30th September.

Fixture
Rugby World Cup
Fiji
17 - 12
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Georgia
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4 Comments
T
Tristan 308 days ago

The Pacific islands have given much to rugby, yes particularly New Zealand rugby. I think we do owe them greater support in many forms, including more test matches. To see some kind of island team in TRC would be great. I don't think that it can accommodate all of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and I'm not sure a combination team is the way to go, so not sure what best option is.

G
Graham 308 days ago

That will mean even more travel for the Boks who up to now have been ambivalent of NH international participation. The Boks have tended to go with a win win - NH experience and money for the franchise competitions and SH internationals to stay in touch with the AB's .

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Jon 1 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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