Learn from Le­los; Ge­or­gia, a rugby na­tion on the rise

Fiji Sun - - Comment - OSEA BOLA Feed­back: os­eab@fi­jisun.com.fj

Fi­jian rugby fans re­turned home dis­ap­pointed from the ANZ Sta­dium in Suva last Fri­day. And they deserved to be up­set af­ter see­ing their Voda­fone Fly­ing Fi­jians be­ing out­played by Ge­or­gia 3-14 in the one-off test.

It was def­i­nitely not the ideal way to spend the Na­tional Sports Day pub­lic hol­i­day. It was not what they ex­pected from the Su­nia Ko­to­cap­tained team af­ter they won the 2016 Pa­cific Na­tions Cup for the fourth year in-a-row at the same venue a week ear­lier. Voda­fone Fly­ing Fi­jians coach John McKee said: “We won the Pa­cific Na­tions Cup; it’s a good achieve­ment as it’s a qual­i­fier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“It’s eas­ier for the boys to get mo­ti­vated against the Pa­cific teams but we need to be mentally tuned when we play test rugby.” The Le­los de­liv­ered a rugby les­son that we should learn from mov­ing for­ward. Per­haps we should have taken no­tice of the 2015 RWC. Out of the Euro­pean na­tions, Ge­or­gia, Ro­ma­nia and Uruguay, the Le­los was the best per­former scor­ing two wins beat­ing Tonga 17-10, Nam­bia 17-16 and scor­ing two tries in the 43-10 loss to the All Blacks.

Af­ter the win over Fiji, the Ge­or­gians could rel­e­gate Fiji from the top 10 in the World Rugby rank­ings af­ter its up­dated to­mor­row.

This could push the bid for the Le­los to par­tic­i­pate in the Six Na­tions re­plac­ing ei­ther Italy or Scot­land or in­creas­ing the com­pe­ti­tion to Seven Na­tions. Their sole re­ward so far for beat­ing Tonga and Namibia and mak­ing the All Blacks look mor­tals in Cardiff last year has been an au­tumn test date against Scot­land at Mur­ray­field later this year.

It will be in­ter­est­ing what the Six Na­tions power­bro­kers will have to say if Ma­muka Gor­godza and his band of bruis­ers win that one.

This is not the first time the Fly­ing Fi­jians have been hu­mil­i­ated by Euro­pean rugby na­tions. The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Fiji Rugby Union, the late Ratu Sir Kamis­ese Mara, re­ferred to Ro­ma­nia as a gym­nas­tic rather than a rugby coun­try 25 years ago. This was af­ter the Fi­jians lost 17-15 to Ro­ma­nia in the pool match at the 1991 RWC. Times have changed and we need to re­spect our op­po­nents rather than over­rat­ing our­selves all the time. The Voda­fone Fly­ing Fi­jians will have that chance again in Novem­ber when we face Bar­bar­ians, Eng­land and Ja­pan dur­ing the Europe tour in Novem­ber. We sim­ply need to do a bet­ter job.

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