Fijian Drua

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Fijian Drua
Fijian Drua logo.jpg
UnionFiji Rugby Union
Founded2017
Ground(s)ANZ Stadium, Suva (Cap: 15,000)
Churchill Park, Lautoka (Cap: 18,000)
Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka (Cap: 12,000)
Coach(es)Senirusi Seruvakula
Captain(s)Eremasi Radrodro
League(s)National Rugby Championship               
2019Semifinalist
3rd placed (regular season)
Team kit
Drua flyhalf Alivereti Veitokani in NRC 2017.

The Fijian Drua is a rugby union team based in Fiji that competes in the Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC). The team was created by the Fiji Rugby Union and launched in August 2017, shortly before the 2017 National Rugby Championship.[1] The team competed in the competition until the end of 2019, when the tournament was disbanded.

On 14 April 2021, New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed the side had been granted a licence to join the Super Rugby competition.[2]

National Rugby Championship[edit]

In July 2017, the Fiji Rugby Union announced that they would enter a team in the Australian domestic National Rugby Championship from the 2017 season onwards following successful negotiations with the Australian Rugby Union,[3] with home matches being played in Suva as well as regional cities Lautoka and Sigatoka. On 25 July, Senirusi Seruvakula was named as the head coach of the team for their inaugural season,[4] and a few days later the first players were invited to a training camp.[5]

The team's name, logo and kit was revealed on 16 August 2017, with the FRU announcing that the team would be known as the Fijian Drua.[1]

In their first year of competition in NRC 2017, the Drua won three of their first four matches to be well placed at the mid point of the season, but then lost three of their remaining four matches to finish in third place.[6] The team was well beaten by the eventual Champions Queensland Country in their semifinal.[7]

The Drua finished on top of the table after the regular season in the following year, losing only one match away to Queensland Country. In the last round they won the Horan-Little Shield by defeating Perth Spirit away in Perth,[8] before beating Canberra Vikings in their semifinal at home in Lautoka. In the final, played at the same venue a week later, the Drua avenged their previous losses to Queensland Country with a 36–26 win to take the 2018 National Rugby Championship title.[9]

The 2019 season saw the Drua once again make the playoffs, finishing with three wins, two draws and two defeats. However, they were unable to defend their title, losing in the semi-finals to Canberra Vikings.[10] This would be their last match in the tournament as the tournament was disbanded following a change in TV deal at the end of 2020, with the 2020 edition having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Super Rugby[edit]

Following the conclusion of the 2020 Super Rugby season, the licences for the South African Super Rugby sides; the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers, the Argentine Jaguares and the Japanese Sunwolves all expired.[11] The 2021 Super Rugby season, still effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, was played in two regionalised tournaments featuring the five New Zealand Super Rugby sides and the four Australian Super Rugby sides, plus the Western Force who had returned to the tournament having lost their licence at the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season. However, from 2022 onwards a new 12-team tournament had been mooted, and on 13 November 2020, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced the Fijian Drua, along with the Moana Pasifika as its preferred partners to join the competition.[12] Further steps were made in March 2021, when the New Zealand Rugby Union agreed to a sharing of broadcast revenue with both the Drua and Moana Pasifika,[13] and this was followed later in the same month by World Rugby announcing financial, high performance and administrative support for both potential new sides, in order to boost the performances of Pacific Islands at international level, while also being able to stay local instead of heading overseas.[14]

On 14 April 2021, both sides were granted licenses to join Super Rugby in 2022 by the New Zealand Rugby Union.[15]

Name and colours[edit]

The team is named after the drua, a traditional Fijian double canoe that served as warships in naval battles. The team's logo pictures a drua stylised inside a rugby ball, to symbolise Fijian players' speed, agility and flair. The Fijian Drua colours are sky blue, black and white.

Sponsorship[edit]

Fiji Airways is the principal sponsor for the Drua, signing a five-year deal in late 2017.[16] ISC is their kit manufacturer.[1] The team is also sponsored by Paradise Beverages, with the Fiji Gold Beer logo and the Ratu Rum brand appearing on the sleeves and back of the jersey.[17]

Current squad[edit]

The squad for the 2019 NRC season:

Fijian Drua squad – NRC 2019[A]
Notes:
  1. ^ From the initial 32-man squad announced in late August, a match-day squad of 24 players travelled to Australia for the opening game,[20] while the remaining three forwards (Koroiduadua, Sauvoli and Navuma) [21] and five backs (Matawalu, Narequva, Wainiqolo, Waqanibau and Raoba) [22] trained in Fiji.
  2. ^ a b c Makutu, Naulago and Camaitovu joined the squad when named in the lineup for Round 6.[18]
  3. ^ Waqatabu joined the squad when named in the team for Round 7.[19]
Bold denotes player is internationally capped. (c) Denotes team captain. 1 denotes marquee player.
Serupepeli Vularika NRC 2018.jpg
Fly-half Serupepeli Vularika.
Ratunaisa Navuma NRC 2017 (cropped).jpg
Hooker Ratunaisa Navuma.
Ifereimi Tovilevu NRC 2017 (cropped).jpg
Winger Ifereimi Tovilevu.
Joeli Veitayaki Jnr NRC 2017 (cropped).jpg
Prop Joeli Veitayaki Jnr.

Records[edit]

Honours[edit]

Season standings[edit]

National Rugby Championship

Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts   Play-offs
2019 3rd 7 3 2 2 231 214 +17 3 17   Semi-final loss to Canberra Vikings by 28–27
2018 1st 7 6 0 1 283 175 +108 3 27   Grand final win over Queensland Country by 36-26
2017 3rd 8 4 0 4 261 245 +16 6 22   Semi-final loss to Queensland Country by 57–21

Head coaches[edit]

Captains[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "FRU Reveals Fiji NRC Official Name and Kit" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 16 August 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Next steps in Pacific Island professional teams journey confirmed by NZ Rugby" (Press release). All Blacks. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  3. ^ "FRU joins 2017 National Rugby Championship" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 21 July 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Seruvakula Appointed NRC Coach" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 25 July 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  5. ^ "NRC Extended Squad to March into Camp" (Press release). Fiji Rugby Union. 6 August 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  6. ^ McKay, Brett (28 October 2017). "Rays pip Drua in Suva". Rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 1 November 2017.
  7. ^ Scambler, Tom (7 November 2017). "Defence key to Queensland Country's remarkable NRC turnaround". Fox Sports. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Sport: Fijian Drua eye NRC glory after securing minor premiership". Radio New Zealand. 15 October 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  9. ^ Robinson, Georgina (27 October 2018). "Fijian Drua clinch NRC title with win over Queensland Country". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Canberra Vikings vs Fijian Drua". rugby.com.au. 20 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Reports: Super Rugby set for 12 from 2022". SA Rugby Magazine. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  12. ^ "New Zealand Rugby confirms Fiji Rugby & Moana Pasifika as preferred partners". New Zealand Rugby. 13 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Super Rugby: Moana Pasifika, Fiji poised for 2022 inclusion as NZ Rugby shares broadcast revenue". Stuff.co.nz. 9 March 2021. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  14. ^ "World Rugby to support Pacific Islands Super Rugby ambitions". World Rugby. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Next steps in Pacific Island professional teams journey confirmed by NZ Rugby". All Blacks. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  16. ^ "28 August 2019". The Blue Swan Daily. 12 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019.
  17. ^ Nath, Rachel (25 August 2017). "Fijian Drua receives major boost". FBC News. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Melbourne Rising vs Fijian Drua". rugby.com.au. 5 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Drua team named for Queensland Country clashua team named for Queensland Country clash". FBC News. 10 October 2019. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Seruvakula names his first traveling squad for NRC opener". Fiji Rugby. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Fijian Drua: Forwards". Fiji Rugby. 27 August 2019. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Fijian Drua Backs". Fiji Rugby. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Seruvakula Appointed NRC Coach". Fiji Sun. 25 July 2017. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Duo for Drua". Fiji Sun. 8 July 2018. Archived from the original on 5 August 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  25. ^ Nasokia, Waisea (22 August 2019). "Eremasi Radrodro leads Fijian Drua to the National Rugby Championship". The Fiji Sun. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Koka leads Drua". Fiji Sun. 22 August 2018. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Stewart Leads Drua". Fiji Sun. 29 August 2017. Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.

External links[edit]