Entries in #rugby (8)



Rugby is a religion here in Fiji. They eat, sleep and breathe it. Being here whilst the Olympic Gold was won was something very special and one of my lasting memories of Fiji. Now that the IRB World Sevens Series is also in full swing the fever has caught the nation once more.

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Toso Viti!

I had set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 05:25 in eager anticipation; I knew I had to have a part in these moments. When it pierced through my dreams I hauled my ass out of my warm bed, wrapped myself in my bedsheet and followed the closest cheers and applause I could hear ricocheting around the neighbourhood.

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Stronger than Winston Rugby

Stronger together, weaker apart. A theme suitable given the recent destruction of Cyclone Winston, the strongest cyclone to have ever hit the Southern hemisphere on record.

Rugby, in particular, brings people together in Fiji as naturally as a coconut to gravity.

The Uprising Beach Resort, a favourite among our volunteers on the Coral Coast, partnered with the West Seven Series and Spain 7s to host the #StrongerThanWinston Rugby 7s Fundraising Appeal.

The Spanish national side, who have been training in Fiji to up their sevens game, and went on to win the Uprising tournament, not only donated the $2000 prize money to the Relief effort, but also created a fundraising account for the Fiji Red Cross Society on behalf of the global rugby community for the Cyclone Relief.

Among the Spanish 7s, were the Army, Army Nadroga, Barracudas, Hillview, McDonald’s Saunaka, Police, Samurai, Tabadamu, Uprising, Wardens, and Westfield, all strong 7s sides of Fiji who played hard to the support of the attending crowds.

The team that gave the greatest battle against the Spain 7s were the Wardens in the semi-finals with a final score of 15-14. The final was between the Spain 7s and the Police, with Spain winning a 24-14 clear lead.

The staff, one of our local partners and the volunteers all came along to support the event, to be entertained and to provide easily the loudest cheer. It was fun to yell in both Fijian and Spanish, and join in the spirit of the game.

The organisation was last minute, but wonderfully done. The live music by InsideOut was, as always, fantastic, and all games were on schedule. It was a great way to spend the weekend, and all for a good cause.

By Sophia Victorian - Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!


Rugby Nation: Tosso Viti!

82,000 people attended the opening match of Fiji versus England at Twickenham Stadium for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. While that electrifying atmosphere cannot easily be emulated, a more authentic one at home, consisting of three Fijian family generations engaged in front of a pixelatedly-challenged television created a whole new realm of a sporting experience.

Torn between the English rose and the Fijian coconut tree, I watched in silence out of respect for the game, for my Fijian family, and for my current lack of knowledge for the sport (my brother told me that if you don’t fully understand the rules, then keep your mouth shut until you do). Since this game, however, my silence transformed into loud cheer, enthused banter between volunteers and the family grew, and i gained so much in rugby knowledge that my enthusiasm for the tournament soared.

As with any international sporting competition, the rugby world cup was alight with dazzling skill, devoted chanting  fans, and the odd controversy to headline a newspaper, or moments of comedy and absurdity to inspire memes. Growing up in a soccer nation, and one that is renown for being brutal in both its support and humiliation of teams and individual players, as well as jeering and even violence against opposing or rival teams, it was refreshing to witness how Fijians enjoy sport.

Rugby as a sport, is a great advocator of teamwork, undeniable athleticism and critically, discipline, on an international stage. Therefore, the world is watching how you represent yourself. In this corner of the world, Fiji’s display of support for their hometeam never fell short. Usually, picking up a newspaper and reading the sports pages can be tiresome, as something that should be pure such as sport is now fraught with scandal, money and ego. The newspapers in Fiji analysed the sport for what it is, and moved on to the next game. The fun is kept within the spirit of the game, and the pressure of performance falls evenly on each player.

Highlights? The southern hemisphere dominated this cup (some bitterness about the last minute decision between Australia and Scotland...), England made history by being the first host nation to fail to make it into the quarter finals (trying not to linger on this!), the destined match between New Zealand and France (same stadium, same but later changed referee), Japan beating semi-finalists South Africa in the group stages, Sonny Bill Williams (All Blacks/ New Zealand) warmed hearts by giving his winners medal away to a devoted fan, and back here at home at Brown Street the legacy of the rugby world cup lives on with the christening of three kittens with rugby player names.

Though at first i was somewhat sad to not have been around such an incredible tournament on home soil, and with rugby growing as a sport internationally who knows when it will next return to England, but being in a huge rugby nation that is Fiji completely made up for it. Also, being in ‘The Group of Death’ (Group A) did not stop Fiji’s rugby fever. Being in Fiji helped restore purity (in my mind) for sport, as well as how to not be a bad loser. Something many, many people could learn from!

Till the next world cup in Japan, 2019. Tosso the coconut trees and the roses!

By Sophia Victorian - Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!


Battle of the Forces: Army Vs Police 64th Annual Sukuna Bowl Competition


The week of the Rugby World Cup 2015 start was a busy one for the defence forces of Fiji. Fortunately not in relation to keeping Fiji safe, but in honouring and celebrating sports by building team spirit,  demonstrating sportsmanship and displaying physical prowess in the 64th annual Sukuna Bowl Competition.

The enlisted sporting talents were not exclusive to just the workforce, but also to the spouses, making this a family friendly event. Thus, through my Fijian family connection, herself an Army wife and ex-participant of the games, I was invited to attend the netball and volleyball event at the Vodafone arena. We arrived at the netball centre to the sounds of cheers from the Army support coloured red and green, and the Police supporters all in blue.

It was a hot day, and I did not envy the players for battling it out in such heat.  The closest and most suspenseful match was between the Netball Team B’s of the Police and Army force, with the Army just nabbing the win. It was a valiant effort from both sides, and watching the netball matches riled a deep nostalgia within me for the game.

Netball, volleyball and rugby are all sports taught within Fiji’s physical education curriculum in schools, and the skills displayed on the courts that day represented strong home-grown talent. Rugby, the most popular sport in Fiji, was the event saved for the final day of the games which saw the Police  force successfully defend their title for another year with a 25-17 win, as well as winning the games overall and taking home the Sukuna Bowl (a kava bowl, of course). Asides from rugby on the final day, games of tug of war were also played!

History of the games show that the Police force have come out on top more often, with a record of 30 Sukuna bowl wins to the Army’s 23, including this year’s triumph. The battles were intense, the atmosphere electric, the talent strong, the skills impressive and my experience worth it. Anything that bonds people as well as bringing out the best in them is something worthwhile of celebrating. Call me biased, but fingers crossed for an Army win in 2016!

By Sophia Victorian - Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!


Snap Chat - TellYourStory: Fiji Features Follow-up!

Friday 21st August was always going to be a busy day, and with the sun burning away the clouds, the relentless heat added to the charged day. Tasked with ‘snapchatting’ a typical day in Fiji, i wanted to encompass the work we do, how we live and what is the real Fiji. Naturally, the Universe intervenes in ways that you cannot control (unplanned coordinator duties), so you ride the seqa naleqa (no worries) wave through to the setting sun.

Watch the video below of all my snaps followed by an explanation beneath of what each one is about...

Note: As is the nature of snapchat, after a 24 hour period the snapchats are removed, and so the times allocated below are approximated.

7.30am – Morning run looping Waimanu road to view the beautiful Suva harbour and ocean. On a Fijian note, jogging is not a popular activity here, so I always look like a crazy kaivalagi (foreigner) when I go running.

8:00am – After a cold shower (most showers in Fijian households run cold), the homestay children and volunteers are roused and ready for the day. Over a kerosene burner (kerosene drums are bought when gas is not fitted), project manager Brittany cooked a breakfast of eggs with grilled tomatoes and peppers.

10.30am – Homestay Father (Master Sokosoko – named in respect of once being Headmaster to the Suva Methodist Primary school) and I visited some of his church connections to establish more homestay sites for future volunteers. We drank tea and walked through neighbourhoods full of colourfully painted houses, hanging hibiscus flowers and animals lazing in the sun.

12:00pm – Master Sokosoko and i then visited his old school, the Suva Methodist Primary School and he showed me his old office and school grounds. Behind the school a lovo (earth oven) was being prepared for the annual Methodist Church conference, which brings methodists from all across the many islands of Fiji to come confer and celebrate in one place, which was just beside the school on huge muddied grounds.

12.20pm -  We sat in the Wailevu tent. Master Sokosoko sat with the men and drank kava and watched the traditional song and dances, and i sat with the women and ate a delicious meal of fish, dalo and greens soaked in a chili coconut milk (using my hands only, which i love). We all wore our sulus and after a while i took a walk around to visit the stalls selling cakes, tea, soup bowls , barbecue and even second-hand bras (go Beqa Island tent!).

1:00pm – It was time for me to part with Master Sokosoko, especially as he was only just getting started with kava! I jumped into a taxi and headed to Suva city centre.

1:05pm – I visited the municipal fruit and veg market, and then climbed the stairs to the upper level to where the kava, spices and honey are sold. Kava is a root which is pounded down and mixed with water then drank. Originally ceremonial to solve feuds, welcome people or other celebrations, while it is still drunk for those reasons it is also now a common drink for most social occasions. Snapchat took a break at this point, as the next few tasks were very sundry and therefore not exciting enough to upload!

6:00pm – I took a cold shower, and then with my homestay sister, Leba, we headed back into the Suva city centre to the Hibiscus Festival, Fiji’s oldest charity carnival. There we ate samosas (huge Indo-Fijian population in Fiji), rode superfast Ferris wheels, ate fish and chips (Fijians love a good British fish’n’chips, pies, etc), and rode Leba’s favourite ride, ‘The Octopus’. There is free entertainment, stalls (where i picked up the cannibal fork and axe), and of course, every year the ‘Hibiscus Queen’, styled as a beauty pageant, is crowned on the final day.

9:00pm – Exhausted. All the volunteers went out to celebrate the Friday night, whereas I put myself to bed. I owe it to too much sun and not staying still once.

Saturday 22nd August – As Snapchat was headed for Iceland the next day; I had a few remaining hours given the huge time difference between Fiji and Iceland.

8:00am – 12:00pm - Headed into Suva city centre to stroll around. I snapped –

•    Baby ‘bula’ dresses. Bula shirts are very popular both in the service industry and just for daytime wear (think Hawaiian shirt).

•    Suva’s fish market. Everyday a huge array of fish line an alley running between the cinema and the sea wall.

•    The cinema. Indian movies (bollywood) dominate the film scene here, among typical hollywood blockbusters.

•    Joske’s Thumb – one of Fiji’s toughest hikes.

•    Super yacht day – Every month a superyacht would grace Suva’s harbour and spill an onslaught of tourists into the capital. While fun, it is sometimes troublesome for our volunteers when the taxi drivers take them on detours, assuming them to be tourists!

Ideally, 24 hours was not enough, but we hope we were able to provide some insight into life in Fiji. Moce!

By Sophia Victorian - Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!


Snapchat - Tell Your Story: Fiji Features 

If you had one day to document  all you could about the country you reside in, from the work you do, to the people who motivate you, the scenery that moves you, and ultimately changes you, how would you do it?

“Starting on August 1st, 2015 TellYourStory will take you on a Snapchat journey around the world. Every 24 hours you'll experience what it's like to live in a different country. The host will introduce you to traditional dishes, native customs, architecture and so much more!"  

Boarding call: Add tellyourstory on Snapchat!

Tell Your Story is a travel and media project created by Penn State alumni Ryan Gagnon, who was inspired to bring 30 daily accounts of people’s lives in their current country of residence or native home. Spurred by his recent summer travels where he travel-logged every experience, and further galvanised by how major media outlets have the tendency to sensationalise new stories through directed news angles, Ryan wanted the unfiltered approach.

Fiji will be in the spotlight on Friday 21st August, with Frontier behind the steering wheel.  Alongside this duty we will culturally inform, celebrate and project all that is wonderful about Fiji, as well as the work we do in the community. International misconceptions about Fiji can be challenged and brought to light (it is so much more than just a honeymoon destination with a good rugby team) and awareness can be raised in the right areas (Hibiscus Festival’s theme of Climate Change). We aim to encapsulate all, as we work within the changeable weather of Suva and the unpredictability of Fiji time.

We are looking forward to giving Fiji a big trumpet to blow from the tiny speck of islands from this corner of the world.

All you need to do, is log in to snapchat, add tellyourstory, and look out for us on Friday 21st August. Bon voyage!

Instagram - @snapchat_theworld

By Sophia Victorian - Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!


Dean Trophy Rugby Finals

As the oldest rugby tournament in Fiji the Dean Trophy is one of the most anticipated school events in the Fijian calendar. Since arriving in Fiji what feels like a lifetime ago I knew that one of the things I had to do here was watch a Fijian rugby match, so luckily enough the final was on a weekend I had free.

The homestay family, being as rugby mad as every other Fijian in the country, had mentioned the Dean Trophy to me in passing conversation, but as an English girl from a relatively small secondary school it was hard to imagine the scale of the event. Seeing as it was a school rugby competition I thought it would attract maybe a few hundred, if even that. Then I started to notice the Fiji Times publishing articles with headlines like ‘Dean Finals Hype,’ and thought maybe it was a bit bigger than expected.

Then the day of the finals came so me and a few of the volunteers piled into a taxi in the pouring rain to head over to the ANZ Stadium to watch the U18 final. There were actually three games prior to us getting there but in true ‘Fiji time’ style … we didn’t get there in time.

When we got there we could see a wall of people stood on a bank and figured the pitch would be just on the other side and the crowd had gathered there because it was next to the big screen. Then we got in and realised we were wrong, this tournament was far bigger than we had anticipated. The stadium was packed with fans in their thousands. Fans were dressed head to toe in their old school merchandise, waving school flags and shouting at the top of their lungs. Some of the national Flying Fijians and their coach had even made an appearance to support their old school.

As the boys at the homestay support RKS, we decided that’s who we would cheer for, however after a while we got so excited that we just cheered at everything. I’m pretty sure the people next to us thought we were either drunk or stupid. Probably both.

All in all the match was one that I will remember for quite some time. As RKS ended up winning it was even better. I’ve never witnessed such massive support for school rugby, and being part of it was something I had wanted to do since I got here. To anyone coming to Fiji, whether it’s a school match, local match or maybe even a national match, go to it, the atmosphere will make you envious that we don’t get that excited about our school rugby tournaments!

By Claire Poynton - Journalism and Media Intern

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.

Check out what volunteers in Fiji are up to right now!