Rasta’s Fiji Ex­pe­ri­ence

mailife - - Content - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos by JONE LUVENITOGA

FHATUWANI ‘Rasta’ Ra­sivhenge has be­come a house­hold name in Fiji. At times he is hated, sworn at through the tele­vi­sion screen and given all the Fijian ‘curs­ings’ un­der the sun, but iron­i­cally all this has made him quite pop­u­lar. His name Fhatuwani means to be care­ful and to be awake in the Tshiv­enda or Venda lan­guage, which are South African lan­guages. Venda is in a class of its own and is hard to learn, un­like some other South African lan­guages such as Se­sotho, Setswana, Zulu and Nde­bele. “I think I am living by my first name, Fhatuwani, in re­gard to what I do in con­trol­ling rugby matches, be­cause I have to be care­ful in con­trol­ling the game and be awake dur­ing the whole 80 minute game,” Rasta said. The 32 year old South African na­tional is re­garded one of the youngest ref­er­ees in rugby. Rasta was born in Kemp­ton Park near Jo­han­nes­burg in South Africa and made his first visit to Fiji for the Mana Whey Fiji Co­ral Coast 2018 Rugby 7s held at Lawaqa Park in Si­ga­toka last month. He was ac­com­pa­nied by his girl­friend of 10 months – Ger­man na­tional Anna-lena Ull­rich. Ull­rich who was also vis­it­ing for the first time, said she met Rasta in a bar dur­ing one of her vis­its to South Africa. “Rasta ap­proached me in the bar and we started talk­ing. I had no idea he was an in­ter­na­tional rugby ref­eree,” Ull­rich said. “We hit it off and from there the rest is his­tory.”

“I can see Rasta is very pas­sion­ate about rugby and be­ing a ref­eree and it is my job to make him happy and be sup­port­ive of his ca­reer.” Not one to be in the limelight, Rasta was caught off guard when the Fiji me­dia were ask­ing Ull­rich ques­tions about their re­la­tion­ship and stood by her side laugh­ing. He was sur­prised with the hos­pi­tal­ity of the Fijian peo­ple as they greeted him with open hearts and their big ‘bula’ smiles. “I didn’t know I was a house­hold name here. The peo­ple of Fiji treat me like a star.” With the com­pli­ments of Si­ga­toka River Sa­fari, Rasta was able to travel up to some vil­lages in the in­te­rior of Fiji. “I thor­oughly en­joyed my time there, in fact I felt I be­longed, not to men­tion I look sim­i­lar to some of the vil­lagers.” Rasta was gob­s­macked with the level of rugby dis­played dur­ing the MWFCC 7s and said it had been an eye opener for him. “We need to in­vest more into these types of events and find more po­ten­tial and tal­ent in the rugby field,” Rasta said. Rasta has been a reg­u­lar ref­eree on the In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Se­ries cir­cuit since the 2011 – 2012 sea­son and also of­fi­ci­ated in South African do­mes­tic rugby union com­pe­ti­tions – the Cur­rie Cup, Vo­da­com Cup and Var­sity Cup since 2010. He also of­fi­ci­ated matches dur­ing the 2014 Com­mon­wealth Games in Scot­land. Rasta took a break from the South African Rugby Union and was re­cruited by the Aus­tralian Rugby Union, where he

IRB ref­eree Rasta Ra­sivhenge at Lawaqa Park.

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