By Finau Fonua, RNZ Pacific journalist
The Fijiana are one step away from reaching the quarterfinals of the Ladies’s Rugby World Cup — however they need to beat favorite France first.
To qualify, they should overcome the in-form French workforce on the Northland Occasions Centre in Whangārei on Saturday.
It is a chance that has arisen because of an exhilarating 21-17 last-gasp upset over favourites South Africa last weekend, with Fijiana stealing the sport with a strive scored within the closing minute.
Most commentators didn’t count on Fijiana to win, having entered the sport off the again of an 84-19 thrashing at the hands of England in their opening sport.
“I’ve no phrases for it. I’m simply so grateful for the women. We talked about leaving the whole lot on the sphere and enjoying with our hearts,” Fijiana captain Asinate Serevi stated.
“One factor that Fijians are recognized for is that even with three or one minute left on the clock, we are able to nonetheless win a sport — and that’s what we did,” Asinate added.
“As a captain they made me look good, so I’m endlessly grateful for the sport they placed on.”
First Pacific qualifier
Being the primary Pacific Island nation to qualify for the Ladies’s Rugby World Cup is an accomplishment, however for Fijiana, qualifying for the quarterfinals is the driving objective.
Regardless of a disheartening loss to England, Senirusi Serivakula stated Fijiana’s successful ambitions have by no means faltered.
“The message was clear from the start, which was that we should beat South Africa. That was the message, that we aren’t going to stroll away with no win over South Africa,” coach Senirusi Seruvakula stated.
“I’m proud that the women caught to it, they usually performed as a workforce to the final minute.”
That message was delivered in a surprising trend, with a last-minute strive scored proper between the posts by ahead Karalaini Naisewa. The quantity eight needed to crash via three tacklers to get the ball over the road.
That strive has since gone viral and Fijiana gamers have now grow to be in a single day celebrities in Fiji.
The star of the workforce, prop ahead Siteri Rasolea, was awarded participant of the match. She relentlessly ploughed via South Africa’s forwards from starting to finish.
Rasolea had already received public admiration in Fiji after she turned down a proposal to play for her dwelling nation Australia, opting to symbolize her heritage nation Fiji.
Rasolea stated the workforce had been nonetheless coming to phrases with their accomplishment.
“Our ladies needed to dig deep and actually combat for one another,” stated Rasolea.
“I’m nonetheless in awe of it now. I need to dedicate this to everybody who supported me at dwelling. It wasn’t straightforward leaving Australia to go to Fiji, so I fulfil my goals.”
Like Rasolea, lots of Fijiana’s gamers flocked from abroad with the aim of representing their heritage.
Fijiana captain Asinate Serevi, who’s the daughter of 7s legend Waisele Serevi, represented america for 3 years earlier than switching to Fiji.
“It means the entire world to me. I can’t thank God sufficient for all of the assist. My plan was simply to play for Fiji and symbolize my nation. And being named captain is actually past goals,” Serevi stated.
‘Large step to win’
“It’s an enormous step for us to win one sport within the World Cup means to us like we’ve received the world cup already. We all know France goes to be harder and we now have issues to work on.”
No matter Fijiana’s huge win, France stays the overwhelming favorite, having simply defeated South Africa 40-5 and narrowly dropping to England 13-7.
Nonetheless, they’ve been weakened by the lack of their employees halfback Laure Sansus, who’s out if the World Cup on account of a knee damage within the first quarter of the sport towards England.
Sansus, the 2022 Ladies’s Six Nations Participant of the Championship tore her anterior cruciate ligament and will likely be changed by centre Marie Dupouy. Nonetheless, she’s going to keep on in New Zealand as France’s “chief fan”.
Coach Seruvakula is optimistic that Fijiana can win in the event that they play an ideal sport.
“I consider within the ladies, that they’ll play to the final minute,” stated Seruvakula.
“If we need to play within the quarterfinals, we now have to do proper throughout coaching and thru the method the whole lot will handle itself come sport day towards France.”
This text is republished below a group partnership settlement with RNZ.