A day of shame as Fly­ing Fi­jians floored in pa­thetic rugby per­for­mance against Bar­bar­ians

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

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.

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