Background Buzz – Fiji Team at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa – 29 June 2023



Background Buzz today, I take a closer look at the Fiji Team at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa, before they take on England tomorrow.

Fiji led 14-man Australia going into the final quarter of their game thanks to tries from Waqa Nalaga, Captain Motikiai Murray, Ratu Kavaia Tagivetaua and a bonus-point clinching try from Timoci Nakalevu.

But conceding two tries in as many minutes in the final quarter cost the Fiji U20 achieving a famous win over the Junior Wallabies.

Exciting Flyhalf Isaiah Ravula kicked all seven of his attempts at goal for a personal haul of 14 points. Ravula, who is the nephew of All Black Richie Mo’unga, made 26 kicks in general play, which was more than any other player in Round One and he kicked for 662M, which also ranked him top.

Just what Fiji needs – a talented running kicking flyhalf.

In fact in Round One, Fiji kicked more times in general play, the most of any team apart from the Argentina v Italy game.

Fiji were only ranked seventh for five offloads, which is normally a major feature of their game.

The Fiji U20 also conceded the joint-fewest penalties (five) in round one

Fiji Coach Ifereimi Rawaqa’s starting XV has just one change of personnel and one positional switch for England from their Round One outing.

Rawaqa has kept faith with the same pack that went up against Australia, but in the backs, Manieta Navonovono is named on the left Wing and Bronson Lee shifts to the right.

Fiji U20 Captain Motikiai Murray made his Super Rugby Pacific debut for the Fijian Drua at openside flanker against the Crusaders in Christchurch in their June quarterfinal, and was top try-scorer at the World Rugby Pacific Challenge in May, with five tries for the Fiji Warriors.

Murray made the joint-most carries – 17 for 115M in Round One, as well as scoring a try and beating five defenders – almost a quarter of his team’s total.

Interestingly, England also has a Pasifika connection with Centre Reiketi Ma’asi White’s Father – Vili a RWC2003 veteran, having played for Tonga in the tournament and won 32 caps for the ‘Ikale Tahi in total.

And Greg Fisilau, England’s openside flanker, is the son of former Tonga international Keni Fisilau.

Fiji U20 Head Coach Ifereimi Rawaqa is a former Fiji and Pacific Islands loose forward who won 42 caps across the two teams in addition to playing 7s for Fiji.

He started in the second row for Fiji’s famous win against Wales at Rugby World Cup 2007 in France, having made his tournament debut four years earlier in Australia.

The 42-year-old was appointed Fiji U20 Head Coach in 2022 having previously been in charge of Fiji Warriors.

Toso Viti Toso! Go Fiji Go!

And that’s a wrap!

For I’m Culden Kamea – Mahalo, vina’a and tank you all too mass for all your love and support.

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