Podcast #003 “Over to you Graham” – a sit down with Graham Eden S01E03



In this episode Culden Kamea sits down with Fiji’s commentator extraordinaire – Mr. Graham Eden.

Graham discusses how he ended up in Fiji, how he became a commentator and they go on to discuss their all time favourite Fijian players from fullback to prop. “Over to you Graham!”

Listen to “S01E03 "Over to you Graham" – a sit down with Graham Eden S01E03” on Spreaker.


CULDEN KAMEA: This is TEIVOVO Rugby – The Fiji Rugby Podcast – a TEIVOVO Digital Podcast.

CULDEN KAMEA: Ok. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the TEIVOVOrugby.com podcast. I’m Culden Kamea and while England has the man with the gold and Gun, Fii has the man with a golden voice. And it’s my honor to be interviewing this afternoon, the legendary Fiji rugby radio commentator, Mr Graham Eden.

CULDEN KAMEA: Graham, over to you.

GRAHAM EDEN: Well, it’s a matter of over to me. Well, where do you want me to start? What do you want me to tell you what, where and how?

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes, certainly Graham, it’s a pleasure to for many people to who have heard your voice over the generations over the years to finally see you on camera. And we thank you for this interview today. Graham and I just wanted to say that you know, you, you have you have commentated from grounds all over Fiji which many people have not been to.

CULDEN KAMEA: Like, I remember the ground up in Naitasiri, the Theodore Park in Vatukoula, Subrail Park in Labasa. And you’ve done calls or radio commentating from all over the world. And we, and that’s before the rugby even started.

CULDEN KAMEA: But, many people don’t know much about you. Graham, apart from your voice and rugby on the, on the, on the radio. So if you could please just share a few, a few, notes with us or points with us about how, where you, your life before rugby commentating in Fiji.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yeah. Well, I, I was lucky enough, I think I, I was once a school teacher in, in Christchurch. And, it was the, the, current, boss of, of Kashmir High School who said to me there’s a, a prospect there of somebody going from Fiji and from Christchurch to Fiji. And I said, what, how, what do we do to get there?

GRAHAM EDEN: And, ultimately, we put together a, a suggestion that, I’d go to the headmaster at Cashmere High School, talk to him with what he thought. And that guy was, was AAA big, big fellow, in terms of his ability and that, he said, well, we’ll go to the, the, powers that be and we’ll see if we can get something for you.

GRAHAM EDEN: I found out, during this, I, I thought, and, learned that I had to be married to, to turn around to get anything like that. And, rather quickly in 1960 I was able to, learn that I’ve been given a job with a wife, in, the, the days of Fiji’s early times. And, from there I, I just felt, feel now that I, I never stopped.

GRAHAM EDEN: It was, it was a wonderful opportunity of not only, learning about Fiji, but it was more important to me to know more about the rugby of Fiji. And that was, to me was the commencement of, being a school teacher in New, in Fiji, based at, at the what it was called grammar school. Yes.

GRAHAM EDEN: And there was, we were, we had a combination on the ground so one could spend a lot of time in, in coaching, swimming, rugby, cricket. And and, and then into, into other sports, like the athletics, athletics. Yeah, they, the, the games like that and I just happened to be part of it just forever.

CULDEN KAMEA: Thank, thank goodness you never went back and you stayed on here in Fiji. I, I didn’t realize you also did swimming but you did a whole range of sports Graham. But I heard you were a very tough task master with the super grammar school 1st 15. Do you have any memories of that players?

GRAHAM EDEN: I think we, we had a wonderful group of, of players. We had there was another person whose name escapes me at the moment. He stood back while I stood forward. It was all part of our hard work but our, it was pleasure and leisure.

CULDEN KAMEA: And then, and then Graham, how did you actually get into rugby commentating? Did that come with you from New Zealand or you just started up here?

GRAHAM EDEN: No, I used to play rugby in, in Christchurch, New Zealand. And, I had to leave that behind but it was, a, Another New Zealander who was here in Fiji before me also had a son my limit.

GRAHAM EDEN: And, it was, I was called one day to the education department here in, in Fiji and I was told that the, the person I’m trying to remember wanted and did go on leave and they wanted somebody to talk about rugby when it was just 11, once a week at the end of each afternoon of sport, I had to sit down and somehow rather plow through the results of, rugby, rugby and, and then when it was out of season, it carried on into something else.

GRAHAM EDEN: And every, every, Saturday evening after I’d played a game of rugby, I would, get clean and tidy and present at 7 30 A sports round up, it was called at that time and that, took us through the, the people who would write or, or, or call in and give us the results. Then I had to put it together. Then we had a, we had a show, we had, we had to we went forward, Graham.

CULDEN KAMEA: We all, we all learned myself included and all the other commentators, Howard Poti and all the other commentators who came behind learned from you. So did you actually get trained or you just taught yourself to get into the rugby commentating?

GRAHAM EDEN: I think nobody else wanted to do it and it was left to the, the dumb one to to take it on. And, I, I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing.

GRAHAM EDEN: I moved on from, from just the once a week until we got to 76 days a week after that. And there was a seven o’clock, five minute a, well, the grouping of it. What, what, what do we call it?

GRAHAM EDEN: We used to broadcast sport every night while I, while I was, living at, actually, by that time I was living down at, Pacific Harbor. I was, I was at Pacific Harbor by that time. And, we, we, I would do it at seven o’clock over the phone at home and then back, I’d come with, with school kids next morning.

GRAHAM EDEN: And so we all had fun and we all had an enjoyable time.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. Graham. You’ve called, Games Live back to Fiji from all over the world. Some of the great stadiums of the world took them in London Cardiff Arms Park in the good old days in Wales there. And Murrayfield in Scotland.

CULDEN KAMEA: Can you share with us any special memories of, of those grounds? You know, it’s not easy to, to go and set up and commentate back home to Fiji, isn’t it?

GRAHAM EDEN: Well, I didn’t find it very difficult actually. As long as it was, there were other people around who were, provide the background noise of, of excitement.

GRAHAM EDEN: Obviously the best that I think I, I ever knew was Twickenham without a doubt.

GRAHAM EDEN: And, and and then there were, there were others that, that I went through but they nothing beat Twickenham at that stage because of course, at first it wasn’t seven, the seventh, never started until it was 1976. And that we, I wasn’t the first person who went there.

GRAHAM EDEN: But he, he was one who said to me, why don’t you go and get to get get to see the matches that are on Overseas. And that was really what it started with. And then that was my beginning in in that with the sevens, the sevens and I sat in the, the grand stand with people surrounding me.

GRAHAM EDEN: But nothing, nothing as good as Twickenham, nothing as good as Hong Kong. Of course, that was another wizard of a place. And II I must have done, I’ve forgotten exactly how many, but I must have done 40 different tournaments in Hong Kong in Hong Kong. It was. Yes, it was.

GRAHAM EDEN: And I would always take a, a little extra time out and I, if I was in Hong Kong, I would go and, and do a trip across and I remember to go to the Philippines from Hong Kong. I’ve been to, to a number of other wonderful places and I could do 10 days extra and, and, and go and see what it was all about while you’re in that part of the world.

GRAHAM EDEN: I was in that part of the world and that, that gave me a, a breadth of understanding a breadth of, of enjoyment and, and a breadth, a breadth of being able to watch other people also in, in sporting activity.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes, Graham. I just I just recall once we did the sevens together in Catania in Sicily, in the early 19 eighties, you know, that was before the seven series. Those would have been before the, before the seven series. And you know, just some odd places like that.

CULDEN KAMEA: There was a, then they had a bit of a sevens tournament in Sydney, but it wasn’t until the HS BC Seven series started that you that we really got into Hong Kong and I just want to I just, I’ll just quickly turn to that. It’s, it’s you know, the Hong Kong sevens.

CULDEN KAMEA: I I, I say Graham that in my piece here, the notes that I put together that Fiji really owes you a huge debt, you know, of honor because I believe your commentaries of the Hong Kong sevens when it was 1976 to 77 right in the very early days. But you put so much color and and a description of Hong Kong itself, the mystique of Hong Kong, you know right on the edge of China there.

CULDEN KAMEA: And it was to us a very strange place but very similar you used to say in your commentary, a little island and you know, nation like a colony of Britain at the time. And I really do believe that you set the light of sevens alive here in Fiji leading to the 22nd, 2016 Olympic Games gold medal in Rio because you made it so exciting that every Fijian rugby player wants to go and play for Fiji in Hong Kong.

CULDEN KAMEA: And no, thank you for that. I think it is a marvelous thing that you did there. And and you know, I remember your call for that famous try when Serevi tipped the ball, I think Rooney did an under underarm throwing over his head.

GRAHAM EDEN: He he, he picked it up off the bounce and bounced it over and I almost cried because I yelled out, put the bloody thing under your arm and he, he still went like that and was a marvelous try. But I was so worried because it was so close of a finish.

GRAHAM EDEN: But he, he did manage to get the ball down without dropping out without knocking it on and on that basis, it certainly resign a re resign dates right around the, the, the world and lots of people photograph that. Those who could be quick enough, the way in which he did it, it was something mighty something he’d never forget. Certainly something I wouldn’t and not again, would I see it again? Graham.

CULDEN KAMEA: Just to, just to talk about the teams in Hong Kong over the years just to compare some of them. There was the great era of, you know, with and, and those names in the 19 eighties. They won that in, sorry, in the 19 nineties or rather early 19 nineties. 92 91 92 and 93.

CULDEN KAMEA: They won the triple and with under and, and then, and then, and then, Wayne pcs team which won the 1995 rugby World Cup Seven Or 2005. Sorry. And, and then, and then Ben Ryan’s Olympic team, would you like to just draw some comparisons across that, that those teams, those particularly, those three.

GRAHAM EDEN: I think that’s a fairly, fairly hard one, a fairly tough one from the point of view of all of them were, were, were what brought the Spectators to it that all those that you, you mentioned, there are are memoirs of some wonderful rugby, wonderful meeting of people, wonderful ability with the ball and certainly feed with domination right throughout.

GRAHAM EDEN: And while I don’t know how many we didn’t win, we certainly had AAA Bag full of victories. The, the reality was that it drew the the public and people would come from all around the world.

GRAHAM EDEN: It didn’t matter where it was. There were people from almost every part of the world were at the Hong Kong sevens and people had to book ahead to be able to get a, a seat or a or a position and a hotel. Yes, there was a hotel there badly, a bad one.

CULDEN KAMEA: Graham. So in, in the 19 eighties, it seemed like you know, an era where we a decade where we really got to the finals, but just got beaten by New Zealand all the time. And I mentioned the names of Buck Shed, Dallas Seymour, Eric Rush, you know, Jo and of course Gordon Dion, did you encounter him? And how did he come across to you?

GRAHAM EDEN: Well, Tchen was a a specialist and as a specialist, everybody had to do it as he wanted done. And I think it took him to a number of victories. It was no doubt about that, that without somebody as, as strongly, strongly.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yes. And, and on the basis of that, he didn’t last long enough in, in the, the center field, but you, you should have heard him after the game or you should have heard him at half time, on the times when he wasn’t quite as, as, able or, or, quite, loud. He was, yes, he was, he was a tough nut that and no doubt about it.

CULDEN KAMEA: And, and then came along. Graham, you had the, had the time to meet and talk to as a coach. How did he strike you?

GRAHAM EDEN: I didn’t think he had much to contribute to. No, I think, he, he, he filled a gap between the those before him and those that followed. I didn’t think that was, was outstandingly. He, he didn’t have quite the ability of those that were before or after.

CULDEN KAMEA: Ok. Ok. So we’ll leave it at that. And, Graham, you have strong views also on William Ryder. A lot of people, you know, think he was a brilliant player but you don’t.

GRAHAM EDEN: No, I, I didn’t think he was a great player at all.

GRAHAM EDEN: I, I think he was a showman. His, that’s how I, I judged him. His, his, ability, was flashy and as a result it wasn’t consistent.

GRAHAM EDEN: He, he, was able, I suppose to appeal to the crowd, but it was just because it was a show. But if you, if you go backwards, you, you realize that he lost a lot of ball, he could have scored more. And, but his showmanship was, was his strength and a lot of people loved it. I didn’t, that’s, that’s about, I saw him in those days and I’d tell him himself, I saw him again.

CULDEN KAMEA: Ok, Graham, thank you. And of course, the great Graham, he carried Fiji for two or three decades on his shoulders. And, and really, you know, led the players, led the team. Would you would you care to sum up his time in sevens in Fiji for Fiji in Hong Kong?

GRAHAM EDEN: Well, if we didn’t have him, we would never have been as successful in winning the number of matches that he was involved in. He, he, he had a knack of being able to move off either foot, he would move left or you move right. And inevitably it, it finished up and became a try.

GRAHAM EDEN: He wasn’t the fastest player on the field, but his ability to, to sidestep was, was absolutely amazing. And it to this day, he, he would still be one of the, the outstanding people and I think perhaps the top of the pops at the same time now by doing that, that’s where he got his glory from and he got better and better until he got too old to be able to keep going.

CULDEN KAMEA: He played on almost too long, but many good players do.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yes. Yes, that’s right. But, but he still wanted to be more, be able to contribute more and more.

CULDEN KAMEA: Graham. I just want to run, I want to, I really want to, get your views on, on some of the great players and, you know, in these positions. So I just want to run them by you, like an all star fifteens for Fiji. Do you think was our best full back, would you?

GRAHAM EDEN: No, no, no, no, not at all. But he was a good, he was a good fullback but the, the, the full back of, of those very early days, like it almost seemed he used to have a back that, that turned back to be able to get that ball and, and get it to the, to the sideline and I can’t remember who it was but he lived in, in.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. Yes. I’m trying to remember the name too. Oh, almost there. I’ll probably get it later.

GRAHAM EDEN: Oh, yes, certainly. Certainly a, an outstanding player. Yes.

GRAHAM EDEN: Showed the way so often that he would be missed or he was missed when he eventually gave it up. And you recall, Honda, nobody would ever forget little Honda and that, his, his juggling along his, his, his side steps were, were little less than amazing for a size and the weight of what he was, he was, he was number one amongst the little group and Graham his acceleration off the Mark.

CULDEN KAMEA: That was what was made, you know, he got the nickname Honda because from a standing start, no one could catch him. He was just.

GRAHAM EDEN: He was, he had a good side step as well. Yes. Yes. He, he, he could, he could move that way while going that way and center.

GRAHAM EDEN: He was very good. Never lasted long though.

GRAHAM EDEN: You’re bringing back some, some wonderful names. You know, that you’ve got there at inside center or who would you pick as better in my mind?

GRAHAM EDEN: He, he, he, he really got the, the, the wings into positions, into angle into, into the right position to move it on the ball.

CULDEN KAMEA: On the back line. That’s right. That’s where it all starts. And, I have that first five Bosco. Do you think we could have played more at first five for VG in 15? Sorry, in 15th.

GRAHAM EDEN: No, I think he had had enough. Yes, I think he had, had enough. And I think it’s reflected in, in his tailing off of, of, effort and he probably knew that himself, but everybody loved him and, and of course he, he scored a few, few good, good, tries Graham.

CULDEN KAMEA: What about Nicky Little? He holds a few.

GRAHAM EDEN: You bringing me back into the days of the old, Nicky Little. Yes, he was good.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yes. Very good. Yes, I’d put him in that category.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. Very steady. Yeah. Very very, very, very good, you know, he’d give you 10 points a game just from his kicking.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yes, he was, he was worth considering.

GRAHAM EDEN: You got me, got me really thinking about.

CULDEN KAMEA: Some of these Graham. I want to throw up a halfback. Is, has there been any better since then? You think Paul? No, maybe I think.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yeah, I think you’d leave him at the peak of halfback. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I put him there.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yeah. And number eight, number.

GRAHAM EDEN: Consistency was, was his, his, for, not always fast. He, he, there were other, number eight who were faster than he, but he was clever and he, he was, had a side step that got him there.

CULDEN KAMEA: And, the only other one I could think of was a tile in his heyday. He, he was very good, wasn’t he? He was standing number.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yes, he didn’t last long enough. I think that that was perhaps his problem.

CULDEN KAMEA: And, and that is, I know you’re a big fan of, I remember him for, yes, one of the, you know, he was rated as the fastest rugby player in the world in his prime when they came to tour New Zealand in, I think it was 1978 or 79.

GRAHAM EDEN: And I look to my was just incredible, you know, he was, he was outstanding and he, he was even one of those who could go round the outside, go forward pass and go around the outside and he might have even introduced that technique and you turn up outside the wing.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. You know, he really was another, it was very, very special and very old fashioned kind of flanker, but hard as nails and big man, very fast with the locks.


GRAHAM EDEN: Yes. And, and of course, the captain of, that’s who I was after.

GRAHAM EDEN: He was great. He was outstanding and, and he won many a game for, for Fiji at the, at the middle of the line out.

CULDEN KAMEA: And the props Graham I’ve got here, you know, he just passed away recently. Very sadly.

CULDEN KAMEA: Would you rate him as one of your.

GRAHAM EDEN: Top even player? I don’t think he was anything outstanding, but I, I certainly think that he was often the boy who was, was needed to do it to, to score first.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. And, I, I put here, would you rate him as much as.

GRAHAM EDEN: I put them together? I put them together? I think neither of them were big.

GRAHAM EDEN: That’s right. Neither of them. They were, they were short and that was probably the major problem.

CULDEN KAMEA: Yes. Yes. And the would you rank him as, or Antonio?

GRAHAM EDEN: Busy trying to think who’s the other one is he could, he could rake that one back from, from almost anywhere. He gave us a lot of good ball.

CULDEN KAMEA: He certainly did and he did, he was, he lasted a very long time.

GRAHAM EDEN: He was around for a longer time than many.

CULDEN KAMEA: Well, Graham, thank you very much. It’s been a real pleasure for me today and an honor to interview you. As I say, your voice is more famous than the person himself. I think you mentioned when you walk down the street, people don’t know who you are until they hear you speak and they say, oh, this is Graham Eden, which is amazing.

GRAHAM EDEN: Yeah. Yeah, they, they, they, yes, it’s still there. It’s still there. I just recently going down the back of and then. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, how do you, how do you put up with that?

GRAHAM EDEN: It’s, it’s, it’s adulation, I guess, and, and, and by and large, I think I’ve been extremely lucky at having had the chances that I have had and, it, it’s been a joy to meet lots of those people who wanted to come over and check your hands. Yes.

CULDEN KAMEA: Thank you very much and all the best. Very nice to meet you.

GRAHAM EDEN: Thank you. Ok.

Scroll to Top