You only get one shot at the World Cup... We want to finish on a high

In the second edition of his Rugby World Cup diary, Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani explains why their shock defeat to Uruguay is a timely reminder of how the tournament is helping smaller rugby nations raise the bar.

TOKYO, 27 Sep - Onto the next stage of our tour of Japan. We arrived in the city of Otsu from Kamaishi on Thursday evening after a long journey south, and the boys have had time to soak in and accept the loss against Uruguay.

We spoke after the game and agreed that, while it wasn’t the result we wanted, it's not the end of the world and definitely not the end of our tournament. It’s why we play rugby.

We get another chance to prove ourselves next week. Whenever we lose, we continue to live and learn, so we come back stronger - we're ready to go again.

To play at the World Cup was a dream for me, so we have to be grateful for what we have. The World Cup is not over for Fiji. We still have two games to play and I promise we'll give it our all.

Rugby brings people together. In Kamaishi, the World Cup is important for the region, and reminds the people they still have support after the 2011 tsunami disaster.

We played in Kamaishi in the Pacific Nations Cup against Japan before the World Cup. It was very special for me to play there because we had the chance to really understand what impact the tsunami had on the region and the people, especially the children who survived. They are still recovering, so we're very grateful to have been able to visit and talk with the communities about their experiences, and also their bravery.

I know what it's like. Where I come from, in the Pacific Ocean, we have earthquakes and tsunamis in the same way. The tsunami affects families, livelihoods and even sports. That happened in Kamaishi, so being part of the first World Cup game in the region was very special to all of the Fiji team and an experience I'll never forget.

This is what the World Cup is about; to make the most of those opportunities. We have seen how well every team has prepared for this tournament - Uruguay included. They've improved so much.

You only get one shot. You either win or lose, so everyone is preparing for that win. With Uruguay, they were good for their victory on Wednesday and you can see the improvement everywhere in the competition.

 Just look at Japan. The team, and the country, have really made their mark in rugby since that win over South Africa at the 2015 tournament. Rugby now is anybody’s game. What that means is, whoever wants it more will get it.

In other World Cups, you could predict who'd win which game, especially in the pool stages. Now more nations are bringing a bigger challenge to the plate. All the teams are strong.

You can say that about the improvements in the Pacific Islands, too. World Rugby’s Pacific Combine helps a lot. It's a series of rugby camps in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. and it raises the skill levels of players and makes them more professional. Even for me and other island players, having come through the combine, we have seen players receive serious club contracts, which is why we know the programme is working.

End on a high

Imagine: many of these young talents began their journey on the islands, where rugby needs development, so it's great many are playing for clubs and other nations around the world.

They all grew up in the islands. So if more can be done to give them the platform to make their own futures,  then more players will have that experience to play and, as I said about Uruguay and other lower-tier nations, learn what it takes to win in the big games.

We can do nothing about our last game. Getting ready for our match against Georgia next Thursday, we're going to make sure we maintain focus and end our World Cup campaign on a high.

Georgia are going to be very strong in the scrum and in set-piece. The boys have been watching clips from their game against Wales. They lost 43-14, but we can see how good their defence can be and we know that they're going to bring an intense and highly physical game to Osaka.

We hope to see you there.

Frank Lomani is one of 95 players to have come through World Rugby's Pacific Island and North America combines, 15 of whom have won selection for Rugby World Cup 2019.

RNS si/ajr/sw