Speaker – Chief Guest on the occasion of the naming of the Fijiana XV to the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2022

Thank you, Chairman, for those kind words of welcome.

I thank the President of Fiji Rugby, Chairman and Board of Directors and the Rugby Vuvale for inviting me to be your Chief Guest for this evening’s announcement of the Fijian Squad to the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2022 and also to farewell the team on behalf of the country.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge and thank all the former and pioneer women rugby players who took the bold and sensible step to stand up, be counted and start playing rugby.

This was not an easy decision because these brave women were ridiculed and made fun off. This happened all over the world when women started playing a male-dominated sport. However, it was through the sacrifice of those brave pioneers that we are here tonight on the verge of our first World Cup.

We must honor those pioneer woman rugby players.

I also would like to acknowledge and thank the team of 2019 who qualified our Fijiana for the World Cup.

Ladies, I congratulate you for persevering and making it into the final squad.

I have been told that the training had been tough and often you had questioned why you are doing this and whether it was all worth it.

Some of you had wanted to give up and go home.

I also heard that your coaches have been very tough on you and have kept driving you almost to the edge.

I, however, expected nothing less. This is what it takes to play at a World Cup.

You must keep in perspective that you are riding on the shoulders and reputation of a few brave and bold women who made the first decision to play rugby in Fiji and you must keep in focus all the suffering and sacrifice that these women had to endure.

The coaches have prepared you well and it is now your opportunity to deliver on the world stage.

I know that England and France who are ranked No 1 and No 2 in the world are in your pool.  You are ranked no 21, but this should not concern you.

They have not met the Fijiana. Just like when you took the Super W competition by storm and winning the title in your first year of competition, and your winning the Oceania competition.

You have the opportunity to rock the women world of rugby and create your own history. With determination and belief in yourselves nothing is impossible.

So when you are facing the French and the English, show them that we are Fijians, and that rugby is in our DNA, and we punch above our own weight.

Value this opportunity and play your hearts out for the Team, your families, your vanua, all women rugby players and for Fiji.  Our prayers will follow you and as I bid you farewell; I wish you every success in the tournament.

Take pride in the jersey and do us proud.

Before, I end, I would like to thank the coaching and management team who have been preparing you well in the last year, so you are ready for this battle. I thank all the sponsors especially Rooster Chicken for coming on board and supporting the team.

To all the Fiji Rugby Union sponsorship vuvale, I say thank you for your generous support.

Lastly, to the families of the players, I thank you for supporting the Fijiana in their rugby journey which has led them to this day and a historical moment for this special group who will be representing Fiji in our first ever rugby world cup.

To the coach and the Team, safe travels and Gods blessing be upon you.

Vinaka vakalevu