Team profile series looking at the Rugby World Cup records of the 12 directly qualified teams for England 2015.
Fiji’s finest hour at the Rugby World Cup unquestionably came in 2007 in Nantes, France…
In a ‘winner-takes-all’ clash to decide who would join Pool B rivals Australia in the quarter-finals, Fiji upset all the odds to defeat Wales 38-34 on 29 September, 2007.
FIJI ON THE RWC STAGE
Just when it seemed like Martyn Williams’ try seven minutes from time would be enough for Wales to thwart Fiji’s attempts to make the last eight for the first time in 20 years, up popped prop Graham Dewes with what proved to be the all-important score. While it was a sad way for Wales captain Gareth Thomas to mark his 100th cap appearance, everyone connected with Fijian rugby was beaming from ear to ear.
Fiji’s rugby had certainly been a joy to watch and they continued in the same vein seven days later in Marseilles in the quarter-final against South Africa.
With a startling set of backs to call upon, including Vilimoni Delasau, Kameli Ratuvou, Seru Rabeni, Sireli Bobo and Seremaia Bai in their pomp, they gave world champions-in-waiting South Africa the mother of all hurry-ups before eventually going down 37-20. With the match tied at 20-all deep in the second half, lock forward Ifereimi Rawaqa missed a golden opportunity to score and, having been offered a reprieve, the Springboks fought back to advance to the semi-finals.
It was a sterling effort from the Fijians, who earlier in the tournament had seen off Japan and Canada before losing to Australia.
So it was all the more surprising, therefore, that they should choose the Rugby World Cup in 2011 to go back into their shells.
In contrast to their success in France, Fiji were a shadow of their former selves in New Zealand and despite being roared on by thousands of exiled supporters and those who had made the relatively short hop from their homeland, heavy defeats to South Africa and Wales and a humiliating 27-7 loss to Pacific Island rivals Samoa made it a World Cup to forget.
In many ways, that summed up Fiji’s chequered Rugby World Cup history and although they defeated Italy in their very first World Cup match in 1987, 12 long years would elapse before… Read More>
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