Fiji’s Heartbreak and Resilience at Rugby World Cup


Summary: Fiji’s Rugby World Cup journey may have ended in defeat, but the team’s heartbreak and resilience in the face of personal loss puts their performance into perspective. Despite losing to England, two members of the Fijian squad, Sam Matavesi and Josua Tuisova, played in the match shortly after experiencing the death of loved ones. The Fijian rugby family rallied around them, showing their support and solidarity. Matavesi’s decision to play after attending his father’s funeral exemplifies the strong bond and philosophy that family comes first in their lives.

Fiji’s impressive run at the Rugby World Cup came to an end in a hard-fought quarterfinal match against England. Despite being a so-called tier two nation, Fiji managed to knock out the Wallabies and secure a place in the quarterfinals. While they trailed England by 14 points early in the match, they managed to level the score at 24-24 in the second half. However, England ultimately pulled away and won 30-24. Although their defeat was heartbreaking, it pales in comparison to the personal tragedies faced by two members of the squad.

Hooker Sam Matavesi lost his father, Sireli, in the week leading up to the quarterfinal. This was the second bereavement experienced by the Fijians in the past month. Earlier in the tournament, centre Josua Tuisova’s son passed away after a long illness. Despite the immense grief they were facing, both players made the difficult decision to play in the match. Their courage and determination were a testament to the support they received from the Fijian rugby family. Former Parramatta NRL star Semi Radradra noted the emotional impact on the team and how they came together to support one another.

Sam Matavesi, who attended his father’s funeral in Cornwall before rejoining the squad, played in the match against England alongside his brothers. The emotional scene of their teammates presenting Matavesi with his jersey brought tears to everyone’s eyes. The Fijians consider themselves not just a team, but a family. Coach Simon Raiwalui emphasized the bond they share and how they celebrate and suffer together. Despite Matavesi’s deep connection to the team, he made the difficult decision to prioritize his family. Raiwalui expressed his admiration for Matavesi’s sacrifice and highlighted the lasting bond that the team will have.

The Fijian squad’s resilience and the personal sacrifices made by Matavesi and Tuisova served as a source of inspiration for their teammates. The determination they displayed in the face of overwhelming grief showcased their strength of character both on and off the field. Their actions exemplify the philosophy that family comes first and highlight the unbreakable bond within the Fijian rugby family.

Tags: Fiji, Rugby World Cup, defeat, resilience, personal loss, support, family, sacrifice, inspiration, bond