Fiji Rugby Elite Player Pathway Academy took a different approach as the players joined for a basic Judo session earlier this week.
Judo can play a vital role in helping rugby players improve their defense and attacking skills and the players were taught some basic skills which can help them improve certain areas as a rugby player.
Flying Fijians and Fijian Warriors scrumhalf Simione Kuruvoli said Judo has a lot of similarities with rugby in terms of values, ethics and ways of taking down an opponent or skills that is acquired in the rugby field during defense and attacks.
The most important key of all is the safety and wellbeing of a player and that is required in all sports especially in contact sports likes rugby.
“Something that we’ve learnt from the judo class is when you tackle your opponent or being tackled and how to keep your head safe from hitting the ground,” said Kuruvoli.
“Head injury has been ongoing issue that has led to some serious injuries and affecting the lives of the players and their livelihood and that is why it is important to be mindful when you tackle an opponent.
Kuruvoli has been part of the Judo program since he was five years old and he now understands how Judo can really help him in rugby.
“In defense, judo teaches you on how to take down an opponent despite their size and weight just by using their momentum and strength,” he said.
“Also there are some warm up stretches that are used in Judo that takes rugby players by surprise and we are grateful for being part of the program.”
With the guidance of HPU coaches including EPP Manager and former Flying Fijians Bill Gadolo, Kele Leawere and Ifereimi Rawaqa we were fortunate to meet with the players from other region and train for a week in Suva.
For Kuruvoli the journey has just started and as he made his debut for the Flying Fijians against Georgia during the Autumn Nations Cup in France. He earlier was also part of the Fijian side in 2019 when they defeated the Barbarians in England.
Kuruvoli also won the Deans trophy for Queen Victoria School in 2017 with his fellow Flying Fijian Tevita Ikanivere. He then joined the Fijian Under-18 and Under-20 teams and also played for the Fijian Warriors, Fijian Latui before joining the Fiji 7s team for the Oceania 7s.
He made his big break in the international arena as one of the young stars to be named in the Flying Fijians Autumn Nations Test matches when he was named as a replacement halfback for Frank Lomani.
The 22-year-old Kadavu lad plays for Tailevu rugby team in the Fiji Rugby Provincial competition.