A day of shame as Flying Fijians floored in pathetic rugby performance against Barbarians
The Akapusi Qera-captained Vodafone Flying Fijians need to do a lot of soul searching and restore pride in flying the flag for our proud rugby country. Only the coaching staff and the players knew what went wrong in the embarrassing 40-7 thumping by the Barbarians. It was evident that some of the players were not committed. They lacked the big-match temperament. There was no urgency and fire in their belly. This was an ignominious defeat. Head coach John McKee admitted his disappointment over the lacklustre performance. The sold-out crowd of 11,000 at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast deserved better but returned home disappointed by the Fijians’ lethargic performance as the Barbarians coasted to victory with simple ease. To lead 28-0 in 27 minutes, the Barbarians exposed the weaknesses that used to make Fijians the whipping boys of tier one nations. The pain of watching them get easily clobbered by a bunch of Super Rugby players assembled at short notice is excruciating. Many of the local fans planned out the day earlier in the week to watch the Flying Fijians on television yesterday morning before heading to the ANZ Stadium after lunch to support the Fijian teams in the second day of the Oceania 7s Championship.
Instead the Flying Fijians spoilt their Saturday. We lost not because the Barbarians were too strong but for the very simple fact that we played poorly. Everything went wrong from the start and it continued into the final whistle. Waisea Nayacalevu’s try in the 55th minute was a consolation. The victory capped a memorable week for the Barbarians after a 31-31 draw with South Africa and 71-0 defeat of the Czech Republic. The Barbarians consisted mainly of Super Rugby players with the addition of former All Black prop Ben Franks, and Ireland winger Tommy Bowe, who made his debut in the invitation team’s first match in his Belfast hometown in 59 years. The Robbie Deans-coached side gathered from a wide range of teams put on a solid and professional performance. They adapted to the cold condition and played their set piece to perfection. They built their play from the strong combination of Ellis and firstfive eighth Robert Du Preez. On the other hand, it was an error-ridden day for the Fijians most of whom have been playing together for a number of years. Ben Volavola at No. 10 should have been replaced in the first half. He should have provided the direction but failed miserably in defence and kicking. The match was intended to prepare the Fijians for the big test against England this week. Fiji must regroup ahead of their Twickenham date and they must prove they are not Flying Fijians for nothing. The task would be even more difficult but fans need them to do their professional best and fight until the final whistle. The writing is on the wall for our Vodafone Flying Fijians. Unless they make dramatic changes for the rest of their games, this Northern Hemisphere tour will go down as one of the worst on record.
If they had decided to go back, we would not have been here today. I am proud of the forefathers who decided to stay back and I am proud to be part of Fiji. Rosy Akbar
Minister for Health and Medical services during the Girmit Centennial Celebrations in Navua on Friday.