As rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, The Fijian National team is coming across as a pack of wolves, hungry for the Gold. The glory they say, will have to be earned too.
The faster version of the sport known as sevens plays to Fiji’s strengths. Seven players populate a pitch wider than a football field, instead of the more traditional 15, offering more open space for speed and creativity.
Fiji’s men’s rugby sevens team learned the game using plastic bottles, bundled-up shirts and even flip-flops as balls, far removed from the way it is taught in countries like England and New Zealand, both of whom were instrumental in bringing the sport to the tiny Pacific island nation, dating back to the colonial era.
Many of the team’s players still hold side jobs: one works as a prison warden, two are hotel bellhops. In February, the tropical cyclone Winston, the strongest to ever hit Fiji, shattered the archipelago, killing 44 people and causing over $450 million in damages. Several players lost part or all of their homes. Two weeks later, the team won a tournament in Las Vegas, dedicating the victory to the victims.
If they win the gold, they’ll show the world that a tiny nation can do anything.
Title image: RugbyNews