Fiji will become the 21st nation to play at a women’s Rugby World Cup, having confirmed their qualification for New Zealand 2021 with victory over former qualifiers Samoa at the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship on home soil last November.
We take a look at Fiji’s Rugby World Cup journey.
Qualification for RWC 2021: Oceania regional qualifier winner
Most memorable match: That would have to be the victory over Samoa that confirmed the Fijiana’s place at RWC 2021. Fiji had already beaten their rivals eight days previously, and they made no mistake at Churchill Park on 30 November, 2019. Alowesi Nakoci (2) and Lavenia Cavuru scored first-half tries as the hosts built a 24-8 lead at the break. Samoa closed the gap with an unconverted Elieta Taito try, but any Fijian nerves soon evaporated. Pricilla Siata, Lavenia Tinai and Seini Raoma all ran in tries in the final 12 minutes to confirm a 41-13 win — and Fiji’s trip to New Zealand.
Iconic player: Lailanie Burnes has played a pivotal role in the journey that has taken Fiji to Rugby World Cup qualification. The former Fijiana captain founded the Nadi Blazers Women Rugby Club in 2012, which has since produced a number of sevens and 15s national team players. Prop Burnes came off the bench to help Fiji beat Samoa last November.
Did you know? The inaugural Fiji Rugby High Performance Women’s Academy was launched in July, which will help the 30 best players in the country prepare for New Zealand 2021. The women enrolled in the academy will be treated in exactly the same way as their male counterparts financially and also in terms of the level of coaching, medical provision and off-field support they’re able to access.
Quote: “I have been there for the Olympics and for the World Cup in sevens, the Commonwealth Games and other tournaments, but qualifying for one in 15s, that is the biggest achievement of our lives. Playing in the 15s World Cup, it is something we can really look forward to.” – Rusila Nagasau on the enormity of Fijiana qualifying for RWC 2021.
Photo: Oceania Rugby