RWC Diary Day 13 - Wellington
11 September, 2011
|The Flying Fijians in church in Wellington. |
From the heartland of the North Island – Rotorua with its geysers, mud pools, lakes forests and smelly air – today we travelled to its base – wet and wild Wellington the capital of Aotearoa. But it was as if Rotorua was saddened to see us leave this morning after two days of brilliant sunshine were obliterated by cloud and icy cold rain. For us it just made the leaving that much easier, as the smell of ‘Sulphur City’ is something that takes a wee bit of getting used to.
In the handbook given to each player at the start of our Rugby World Cup (RWC) campaign a couple of weeks ago there is a paragraph in it that talks about the power of rugby in Fiji. It reads as follows: “The power of rugby in our country is simply incredible. It knows no religious barrier, it does not distinguish between any race, it doesn’t care whether you be rich or poor and YOU, its players, are held up as heroes, to one and all, throughout the width and breadth of this proud nation.”
The above phrase came to mind this afternoon when the team was officially welcomed by the Fijian Community in Wellington at a local Methodist Church in the heart of the City. While the fine service was led by Methodist minister , the Reverend Peni Tikoinaka, who hails from Nasautoka Village in Wainibuka, what was interesting was the congregation was made up of all denominations, several races, and many faiths.
It was heartening to see the Fiji Indo community not only well represented in the congregation but also given the time to address the boys and put across their own thoughts and sentiments on what the Flying Fijians means to them as a team and a unifying force.
After the service there was a lovely dinner put on by the Fijian community for the players and together with the church service it certainly made the team feel very welcome.
Well yesterday is gone and done and this coming week all focus is very much on South Africa – who as I write have just kicked off against Wales. Tomorrow (Monday) the players will review, with the coaching team, the game against Namibia focusing on things that went well and on some of the plays that didn’t quite work.
Here in New Zealand the media focus is very much on the All Blacks and the top teams – England, Australia, South Africa etc - in the competition which obviously puts a great deal of pressure upon them. No one seems to care too much about Fiji which is fine by us, no doubt though with South Africa as our next opponents the media frenzy for Fiji will begin.
Ironically the Flying Fijians actually stay in the same hotel in which the South African embassy is located so just about wherever we turn in this building we see South Africans everywhere. Strange move by the RWC powers- that-be to do that to us, suppose we’ll just have to live with the situation.
Until tomorrow, moce mada. View the Flying Fijians RWC 2011 photo gallery.
Related articles: RWC Diary Day 11 - Nicky Little RWC Diary Day 12 - Namibia