Rasta’s Fiji Experience
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.