Fiji U20s learn valuable lessons in PRC
By Yuki Ogawa
Fiji head coach Osea Umuumulovo hopes that his charges will reap the benefits of playing under the auspices of the Fiji Barbarians in the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, particularly when it comes to facing South Africa and France in Pool B at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Champions in Japan.
The national Under 20 side played matches over five consecutive weekends against representative teams Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, losing four matches – some by large margins – but securing a confidence boosting victory over Tau’uta Reds of Tonga.
“The main purpose for us to participate in this tournament was to compete against the big boys” explained Umuumulovo, who side face 2008 semi finalists South Africa in their opening match at the Hanazono Stadium in Osaka on Friday.
“We did great and beat one of the Tonga teams. We learned how to improve all the set pieces and how to play against big boys because South Africa and France are slightly bigger than us.”
Fijian sides may be known more for handling skills and their desire to throw the ball around and run at teams than set pieces, but Umuumulovo insists this is not true of these Under 20 players, particularly not after the experiences learned in the Pacific Rugby Cup.
“Scrums and lineouts are the weakness to all the Fijian teams – but these boys they are able to win in the scrums and lineouts! … They reacted very well to [the Pacific Rugby Cup] and they were not nervous at all.
“The boys know the task ahead of them. We will give South Africa a good run for their money, definitely. We are not treating them as a God.”
Kini Murimurivalu, who will captain the side from full back, echoes this sentiment with his comment that the “South Africans are only human like us, they have two legs and two hands. The experience from the PRC has given us two important things, confidence and hope.”
Only time will tell how beneficial Fiji’s preparations will prove against the Baby Boks, France and Italy in the coming weeks, but what the islanders may lack in size, they will not be short of heart and passion to do their nation proud in Japan.
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