A week before the first Rugby World Cup kicked off, Fiji’s participation was cast into doubt due to a military coup in the country.
Despite the turmoil back home, the Fijians were able to travel to New Zealand and take their place in Pool 3 where they faced games against the All Blacks, Italy and Argentina.
The Pacific Islanders began an exhausting schedule of three games in seven days with a 28-9 victory in Hamilton against Los Pumas, a side captained by World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Hugo Porta, at the ripe old age of 35.
To see how Fiji began their rich Rugby World Cup adventure in style, you can watch live streaming of the match on Easter Sunday, at 16:00 BST, on the official Rugby World Cup Facebook page and World Rugby YouTube channel.
Fiji had lost both previous encounters against the South Americans but, on this occasion, they gave former Waikato men, coach George Simpkin and second-row Ilaitia Savai a triumphant ‘homecoming’.
Los Pumas had the ascendancy in the scrum throughout, but the Fijians made better use of what little possession they had to run in four tries.
A rare off day for Porta saw him miss his first two penalty and drop goal attempts as well having a clearance kick charged down, which led to a try for blindside Peceli Gale.
Gale’s back-row colleagues Manasa Qoro and John Sanday set up hooker Salacieli Naivilawasa for the second, and with Severo Koroduadua converting one of the tries as well as a penalty, Fiji held a deserved 13-0 half-time lead.
A converted try for Kavekini Nalaga put Fiji further in front before Porta finally found his range and pegged back the deficit by three.
With the 19-point deficit restored following a second penalty, Fiji started to enjoy themselves and throw the ball around.
Nalaga went close to finishing off a brilliant move that went through several pairs of hands only to be bundled into touch. But from the resulting lineout, Savai crashed over for the most popular score of the afternoon.
A late penalty try awarded by Scottish referee Jim Fleming was of no consolation to Los Pumas.
Despite defeats to the All Blacks and Italy in their next two pool games, Fiji made it through to the last eight on superior try count. Their first Rugby World Cup campaign came to an end with a 31-16 loss to eventual runners-up France in the quarter-finals.
Photo provided by the UAR