Rugby league in Fiji
|Rugby league in Fiji|
There has been a long history of Fijian players making their mark in rugby league, most notably back in the 1960s when great rugby union players such as Joe Levula and Laitia Ravouvou joined Rochdale Hornets and became household names in the English competition. However the game was only introduced to Fiji in 1992. The man who was responsible for its introduction and who went on to become General Manager in those early years was Mr Culden Kamea. In consultation with the then Australian Rugby League (ARL), Mr Kamea was instrumental in the formation of the first Fiji team that took part in a 7's tournament in Sydney, famously knocking over the great Canberra Raiders in one of Fiji team's first ever games. That team was made up of some of the well known players who were part of the all conquering Fiji rugby union 7's team that had won the Hong Kong 7's tournament 3 years in a row (1990–92). Players included Alifereti Dere, Pauliasi Tabulutu, Acura Niuqila and Noa Nadruku. Other players who transitioned to rugby league included Niko Baleiverata, Etuate Waqa, Ratu Orisi Cavuilati, Iosefo Bele, Pio Nakubuwai, Luke Erenavula, Kaiava Salusalu, Kalaveti Naisoro, Nemani Matirewa, Filimoni Seru, Ili Toga and boxer Aisea Nama. Players who were also part of the early Bati teams included those already playing in Australia such as Livai Nalagilagi, Jo Rabele, Manoa Thompson and James Pickering. The game has grown in popularity and is played in most of the main rugby playing provinces of Fiji. Its first ever President was the then Major General Sitiveni Rabuka whose stewardship did wonders for the game in those early years. The Bati recorded some notable victories in its first few years including over France (1994), The British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) team (1994), South Africa (1995 World Cup) and a New Zealand development team.
The national team is known as 'Bati' (pronounced mmBarty) which is the Fijian word for 'Warrior'. The Crest has the words 'Noqu Kalou Noqu Vanua' which is Fijian for 'My God My Land'.
The Fijian rugby league competition is a healthy and progressing competition.
The competition consists of 12 teams divided between East and West conferences. Once the Grand Final is played, a Super 6 competition takes place among the best players from the FNRL. In September a State of Origin type competition is played with East against West.
The administration of rugby league in Fiji has focused more on building the skills base of their players to the levels of the larger rugby league nations rather than those they're used to playing in the Pacific Cup or Pacific Rim Championship.
Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL)
The Fiji National Rugby League Competition comprises the following teams:
- Nabua Broncos
- Tailevu Rabbitohs
- Dee Cees Nadera Panthers
- Mango Bay Cowboys
- Makoi Bulldogs
- Hiway Stabilzers QVS Sharks
- Nadi Eels
- Saru Dragons
- Sabeto Roosters
- Lautoka Crushers (in formation)
- Namoli Knights (in formation)
The National Team
Fiji has produced some of the finest rugby league players in the world. Notable examples include Lote Tuqiri and Petero Civoniceva, both of whom have played for Australia in international test matches, Queensland in the State of Origin series and the Brisbane Broncos in Australian club grand final victories.
- Irvine, Christopher (2008-11-15). "Fiji bring element of surprise to Australias party". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Raj, Amit (2008-11-06). "So close". Fiji Times Online. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200811/s2413092.htm?tab=sport[dead link]
- http://www.fijirugbyleague.com/[dead link]