September 15, 2021
The Fiji Rugby Union has acknowledged the pioneers of women’s rugby in the country following Fijiana 7s Bronze win at the Tokyo Olympics.
In a statement FRU said that Fijiana 7s wouldn’t have stood at the Olympics podium if it wasn’t for the pioneers who paved the way 24 years ago and established a solid foundation of women’s rugby in Fiji.
Women’s rugby began in Fiji when the Marist Rugby 7’s Tournament amended their competition format in 1989 where they included a women’s division to contest the new Tamanivalu Trophy.
Later, the Marist 7’s tournament became a regular competition for the slowly growing women’s rugby in Fiji.
In 1996 Fijiana first came into the limelight of the World 7s stage in an invitational at the Hong Kong 7’s.
By then the QVSOB women’s team retained the Tamanivalu trophy and a team comprised mostly of players from QVSOB club and Marist club was selected to represent Fiji in Hong Kong, and this was the first-ever Fijiana team under the guidance of head coach Ioane Tukana.
Interest in the sport wasn’t rapid back then due to the social stigma that was surrounding women’s participation in rugby, and players found it hard to be accepted for what they’re passionate about.
15 years after their international debut, Fijiana qualified to participate in the 2012 IRB World Sevens Series.
It’s inspiring to learn that our national women’s team back the Telecom Fijiana do not even have a regular domestic competition but are being part of the top 16 teams competing in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
A few of those who steered women’s rugby back then were Pio Bosco Tikoisuva, Vueti Maraiwai, Ioane Tukana, Divela Naucukidi, Frank Boivert, and many others who’ve given their time in managing the team not forgetting the players themselves.
All these pioneers in women’s rugby continued to push forward for an equal playing field right to the point where it was achieved.
In 2019 our Fijiana XVs for the first time in history have qualified for the Rugby World Cup next year.
In 2016 Fijiana made their debut at the Rio Olympics where they finished 9th but this year they clinched the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Fijiana's story empowers upcoming young women to be strong, capable and not let the society define who they are but a meaning that gives a chance for the unseen to be recognized, a meaning that stands as a beacon of hope for those that dares to dream big.
By Romeka Romena