Fiji are wading and waiting in the ‘pool of death’

Shop Roar Guru

By Shop, Shop is a Roar Guru


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    Every time Wales, Australia or England play, the post-match commentary talks about whether or not they will get out of the ‘pool of death’ at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

    It is of course a valid discussion, however it’s one in which Fiji (and Uruguay for that matter) are largely ignored.

    Uruguay will no doubt be used as a means to increase percentage points, and the mostly amateur team will expect to be on the wrong end of some large scores.

    Fiji, however, should be taken much more seriously.

    I’m at least a little puzzled why a proud rugby nation that has made the quarter-finals twice (1987 and 2007) is given no recognition. If anything, allowing them to fly under the radar makes them more dangerous.

    History clearly shows that Fiji can perform on rugby’s biggest stage. Wales especially won’t need reminding that in 2007 they were knocked out of the pool stages by Fiji. They even managed to give eventual winners South Africa a scare in their match that year.

    In the 1987 and 1999 cups, the French stopped them from further progress – 1999 was especially memorable after Paddy O’Brien did the Fijians no favours at all in front of a home crowd.

    In 2003, the Scots kept the Fijians from advancing by a mere 22-20 victory, a match many will remember for Rupeni Caucaunibuca’s double.

    With such a solid Rugby World Cup record, surely the Fijians are aiming to get past the pool stage, just like the other teams.

    One of the great things about the Rugby World Cup is that the whole rugby world focuses on the one tournament. In the years between teams play many Test matches while missing many of their European stars, and results often reflect this.

    But as far as I’m aware, during (and before) the Rugby World Cup players are released from all club duties. This means the Pacific Islanders are able to commit a full-strength side and be much better prepared than some of the one-off Tests during the autumn and June windows.

    In other words, Fiji will play the best side available, and consistently.

    Another important point to consider is player fatigue. In pool C for example, there is no doubt the All Blacks will be thinking about resting players against Namibia or Georgia (no disrespect intended). Will Wales, Australia or England have the same luxury against Fiji? It would be a tactic fraught with danger if they do.

    This in fact bodes badly for all the teams in the pool because it will mean three very intense games in a stage of the tournament that has traditionally had one or two. Whoever the two qualifiers are, they will most likely be much more battered by the time they get to the next stage than those in other pools.

    So, am I saying Fiji will make the quarter final? It is unlikely, and they are a team who can be underwhelming. But I’m tired of the pool of death being portrayed as a three-horse race. They have the capacity to cause more than one upset.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2015 @ 5:22am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | March 20th 2015 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      The problem for Fiji here is they have three tier one nations all with similar top quality players.

      • March 20th 2015 @ 6:00am
        mania said | March 20th 2015 @ 6:00am | ! Report

        biltongbek – this is the wc year samoa take out the Boks then continue on to win their first wc 🙂

        GO SAMOA !!!

        (and if they get knocked out then)

        GO ALLBLACKs!!

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2015 @ 6:16am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | March 20th 2015 @ 6:16am | ! Report

          That will be s turn up for the books ..err Boks 😆

          • March 20th 2015 @ 9:07am
            mania said | March 20th 2015 @ 9:07am | ! Report

            a couple of cuzzies are playing for manu, i hope they make the wc squad. but speaking to them they’re all geared up for playing the boks. the attitude is that if (when) they beat the Boks they’ll be able to beat anyone in the world, including the ABs.

            GO SAMOA!!

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2015 @ 10:03am
              Corne Van Vuuren said | March 20th 2015 @ 10:03am | ! Report

              You must let me know if they make it and who they are.

    • March 20th 2015 @ 6:01am
      mania said | March 20th 2015 @ 6:01am | ! Report

      oh yeah Fiji will cause an upset or 2. i reckon its about time that aus was due another ambush.

      • March 20th 2015 @ 6:19am
        Gurudoright said | March 20th 2015 @ 6:19am | ! Report

        The interesting thing for me is if Fiji do pull off an upset and finish third in the group, whether the team finishing fourth, eg Wallabies, Wales or England will have to go through qualifications in the next World Cup. That has been how it has happened in previous few world cups. Top three of each group qualify for the next World Cup and everybody else needs to qualify.

    • March 20th 2015 @ 6:47am
      ben said | March 20th 2015 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      With the qantasroos now falling to 6th they should probably be playing in the Pacific Nations cup against Fiji Tonga and Japan…. and Samoa promoted to The Championship.

      • March 20th 2015 @ 8:57am
        mania said | March 20th 2015 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        lol i fully agree ben

      • March 20th 2015 @ 4:09pm
        pjm said | March 20th 2015 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        It seems you failed maths.

        • March 21st 2015 @ 5:47am
          ben said | March 21st 2015 @ 5:47am | ! Report

          Whats maths got to do with anything? Last time samoa and the qantasroos played according to my maths samoa had more points than them…so that means they won. Hows that for maths.

          • March 23rd 2015 @ 11:37am
            mania said | March 23rd 2015 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            thats awesome math there ben . GO SAMOA!!!

    • March 20th 2015 @ 7:09am
      ncart said | March 20th 2015 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Good points Shop. It is hard to gauge how Fiji are going because we don’t see them enough and as you note inbetween World Cups they often don’t have the players available or tours are rushed so the preparation is limited. Fiji always have some supreme athletes, especially in open field situations, but I have felt that they have previously been limited in their tight five and their organisational/playmaking positions. Nicky Little improved on this for them but he must have retired now – do you know what their likely squad/lineup is going to be? I’d be interested to see some profiles on the players involved so I can get some idea of the threats that they possess.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2015 @ 9:00am
        Shop said | March 20th 2015 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        I’m not really sure about their line up ncart, which I suppose is one of the points of the article. I’m sure that most of their player would be pros or close to it. The RWC gives them and other PI teams a chance to gel by training together for a decent period.

        The main point I’m trying to make is that no commentators, roar articles included, seem to acknowledge their existance which I think unfair.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2015 @ 2:04pm
          Vhavnal said | March 20th 2015 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

          Why would they acknowledge us?Fiji hasn’t really given them a reason to be acknowledged, last year in November, Fiji could have beaten Wales again but they faltered and chose a 3 pointer instead of going for the try which would have improved our rankings as well but as usual, our coaches and our Rugby body are not known for their intelligence…I’m 100/5 sure Fiji will beat Uruguay but just like in the last world cup’s, we will be unable to beat the other 3 teams..we have NO CHANCE whatsoever to make the QF this years,..

          • March 20th 2015 @ 4:10pm
            pjm said | March 20th 2015 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

            It’s an Australian tradition to blast our own team while talking up minnows that we’ve never even see play.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2015 @ 8:01am
      Harry Jones said | March 20th 2015 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      When you play an island team in the WC, you’re just praying you don’t lose 5 players to injury…

      • March 20th 2015 @ 9:05am
        Council said | March 20th 2015 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Morning Harry, do you remember the combined Islands team a few years back? They played the Tri Nations teams I think. Poor old Wallabies had something like seven injuries in that match.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2015 @ 9:16am
          Harry Jones said | March 20th 2015 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Yep. I played a Tongan team in a tournament in the US a few years ago and even though I wasn’t truly “injured” I couldn’t walk or talk for a couple days afterwards. The size of their knee joints were the issue; when tackling. Not sure I’ve ever seen bigger knees.

      • March 20th 2015 @ 5:48pm
        Birdy said | March 20th 2015 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

        I think this will be the main concern for the ‘big 3’. In terms of talent you’d probably make Fiji number 1 in the group, but year on year rugby becomes more technical and heavily coached/organised. I think there’s increasingly less scope for the sort of upsets we’ve seen in the past. Fiji will be great with ball in hand; but how much ball will they have against Wales, Australia and England? It makes for less romantic rugby, but I think all 3 will beat Fiji comfortably on the scoreboard. Their medical rooms, however, will be ‘busy’. England probably have an advantage looking at the tournament as a whole as they play Fiji first up, then Wales and Australia. Assuming the massive ‘if’ that they win those 3 they can rest-up for a couple of weeks as they have Uruguay in the final pool match.

    • March 20th 2015 @ 8:38am
      Sailosi said | March 20th 2015 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      They will be strong, very strong and it’s great to see John McKee taking no prisoners. He is in direct contact with about 80 overseas players at the moment, continually monitoring there progress and speaking to them regularly. There is finally a good crop of pro second rowers going around and some able front rowers. Can they best Wales? Yes, can they beat England? No, can they beat Australia? I can’t wait to see.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2015 @ 9:03am
        Shop said | March 20th 2015 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        I think the opening game is Fiji v England which will be a huge task for them, but remember Argentina v France in the 2007 opener?

        • March 20th 2015 @ 10:38am
          Sailosi said | March 20th 2015 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          They won’t beat England and that’s fine, I’m not too concerned about that.

          Best lineup
          1. J Yanuyanutawa Glasgow
          2. S Koto Narbonne
          3. I Colati Nevers
          4. L Nakarawa Glasgow
          5. D Waqaniborotu Brive
          6. M Matadigo Lyin
          7. A Qera Montpellier
          8. N Talei Harlequins
          9. N Matawalu Glasgow
          10. S Bai or J Matavesi
          11. N Nalaga Clermont
          12. N Nadolo Crusaders
          13. V Goneva Leicester
          14. W Nayacelevu Stade Francais
          15. M Talebula Bordeaux

          • March 20th 2015 @ 1:41pm
            ncart said | March 20th 2015 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Sailosi, is it that they don’t have the forwards to beat England or the structure overall? I’m just interested in what makes you say they can beat Wales but not England – I’d love to see an upset from them.

            • March 20th 2015 @ 5:45pm
              Sailosi said | March 20th 2015 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

              Belief and the set piece will get crushed. They don’t mentally handle the set piece against teams like England, New Zealand. I think they belief they can beat Wales.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 20th 2015 @ 2:10pm
            Vhavnal said | March 20th 2015 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

            Thats actually a poor team, our front row may have Taniela Koroi and Jerry and there is NO place in the team for Matadigo, Nayacalevu and Talebula.. the possible team against England should be

            1. J Yanuyanutawa Glasgow
            2. S Koto Narbonne
            3. T Koroi Wellington
            4. L Nakarawa Glasgow
            5. A Naikatini Wellington
            6. D Waqaniborotu Brive
            7. A Qera Montpellier
            8. N Talei Harlequins / S Koyamaibole
            9. N Matawalu Glasgow
            10. S Bai or J Matavesi
            11. N Nalaga Clermont
            12. N Nadolo Crusaders
            13. V Goneva Leicester
            14. W Votu Perpignan
            15. T Nagusa Montpelier

            Our best 15^

            • March 20th 2015 @ 3:20pm
              ethan said | March 20th 2015 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

              Game plan: Pass it to Nadolo.

            • Roar Guru

              March 21st 2015 @ 6:25pm
              Simon Levingston said | March 21st 2015 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

              Is Fiji really going to play Nadolo at 12? That should give them go forward ball…perhaps the a Waratahs should play Naiyaravoro at 12 he is about the same size?

          • March 20th 2015 @ 5:51pm
            Birdy said | March 20th 2015 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

            God; there are some scary and skilful players there. I hope England have packed enough plasters and smelling salts.