The Drua should be just the tip of the iceberg

Simon Douch Roar Guru

By Simon Douch, Simon Douch is a Roar Guru


26 Have your say

    As the National Rugby Competition kicked off its fourth season, there was one main storyline: the Fijian Drua. Three rounds in, it’s clear we need more teams from the islands.

    The Drua have enjoyed a successful introduction to the comp, bar one unfortunate biting mishap in the first round.

    They have won two of their three games and have fans grinning from ear to ear. They are big, hard-hitting, raw and exciting – the epitome of what Australian fans are missing.

    What athletes they are!

    It’s quite incredible to see the fabled Fijian style of play up against a clinical Australian club side. Take their latest match, against the New South Wales Country Eagles, it was their first home game and in front of an impressive crowd at Lawaqa Park, the Drua put on a show of true entertainment value.

    Backing up Geoff Parkes’ article about the Wallabies’ performance on the weekend, the Drua hold the elusive x-factor that is entertaining, exciting and bringing fans to the game.

    The Drua hit hard in defence (and attack), they threw the ball around, they created opportunities and plenty of space out wide, and the result was a masterclass of improvised, running and attacking rugby.

    On one play, the Fijians were camped well inside their half. They slickly got the ball to the edge and through strong running, several sets of hands, offloads and interplay, halfback Frank Lomani crossed over for a spectacular try – creating havoc in the grandstands.

    The Eagles, to their credit, held onto the game as long as they could, but in the end, they were outmuscled and out skilled, a rare double blow that only a Fijian opposition can muster.

    I’ll bet my house that there will be another bumper crowd at this weekend’s home game against the Perth Spirit, because Geoff’s theory is absolutely right: there is plenty of exciting rugby to come.

    Luckily enough for us, we get to watch our local heroes go up against the Drua, in our own backyards no less!

    It’s an outstanding move by the ARU, however with the early successes of the Drua, they should go further and establish multiple teams from Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.

    Fiji Drua vs Melbourne Rising

    (Image: Kevin Juggins)

    There is such a strong feeling of pride evident as the men from Fiji run onto the field, which is being emulated by their fans. Teams based in Papua New Guinea, Tonga or Samoa would replicate this strong culture, resulting in some outstanding rugby.

    Perhaps this idea will step on the toes of Andrew Forrest’s new Indo Pac plan, but while the details of his competition remain relatively scarce, it’s nice to remain optimistic.

    The beautiful thing about this type of expansion is that it will have great benefit to our club players and those on the cusp of earning a Wallabies call-up.

    Imagine Tom Banks or Bill Meakes called into the Wallabies squad after a few tough hit-outs against livewire, international opposition. It would be another lesson in their rugby education. Battle-hardened in a tough NRC arena, they would offer something of substance, rather than pose such a big weakness due to lack of experience.

    This expansion could then fuel the talks for a new Super Rugby franchise based somewhere in that area, which would be an incredible development for rugby in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Admittedly, it’s an idealised world that I live in, far from the issues of money and rugby politics that generally confuses and angers most fans.

    But there is an opportunity to strengthen the NRC and it should definitely be taken, especially on the back of the success of the Drua.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • September 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm
      Johnno said | September 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

      Steady on I say. Look at the NZ Warriors, 20 plus years in the ARL/Super league/NRL and no titles and many years of underperformance. Plus the Tahs in super rugby just one title in 20 plus years but one of the largest super rugby markets..
      What gives you confidence pacific islands sides from 3rd world countries will be successful in super rugby or more NRC teams or indo-paicifc teams..

      • Roar Guru

        September 21st 2017 @ 12:17pm
        Simon Douch said | September 21st 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        Success surely isn’t measured in titles alone. As long as there are plenty fans willing to attend games, they can be a strong, successful club. The Drua’s introduction to super rugby has been labelled a success, why? Because they play an exciting brand of rugby that keeps fans interested.

        • September 21st 2017 @ 3:35pm
          Phil said | September 21st 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          “The Drua’s introduction to super rugby has been labelled a success”

          NRC is not super rugby Simon

        • September 21st 2017 @ 3:35pm
          Phil said | September 21st 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          “The Drua’s introduction to super rugby has been labelled a success”

          NRC is not super rugby Simon

    • September 20th 2017 @ 3:10pm
      Working Class Rugger said | September 20th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

      I tend to think that Fiji are probably the only PI nation capable of doing something akin to this as an individual entity. Even then they have significant backing from World Rugby. But I do generally like the idea of involving more of Island nation neighbours.

      I’d actually like to see the ARU and World Rugby work together to established a combined Samoan/Tongan squad based somewhere in Australia for the duration of the NRC. With the option of taking games to both nations throughout the season.

      I don’t know about the PNG. Maybe if they are up to the required standard. I think an interesting option looking at the recent IPRC talk is somewhere like Hong Kong. They’ve set up professional squads both in the 7 and 15 man game and I think the NRC would be a solid structure for them in order to gain more game time. Adds a little extra flavour to it as well.

    • Roar Guru

      September 20th 2017 @ 9:20pm
      DaniE said | September 20th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

      I think Perth Rising is going to have make a massive effort on the weekend, with Taliga and Mata from the Rio 7s team coming into the squad to help cover for the recent injuries!!! Absolute big game players. Maybe the Spirit can utilise some of Uyens hang-onto-the-boot technique which worked well against Naiyarovoro on the weekend to furl the Drua’s sails.

      • September 21st 2017 @ 9:26pm
        andrewM said | September 21st 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

        Perth Rising??

    • September 21st 2017 @ 9:39am
      Ouch said | September 21st 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      Great addition to the comp. Lovin the Drua

    • Roar Guru

      September 21st 2017 @ 10:00am
      Bay35Pablo said | September 21st 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      PNG is actually a good idea. But would need World Rugby funding like Fiji. League is the national sport, and they have a team in the Queensland Cup as a precursor to trying to get into the NRL, but they’d surely love to see the chance to whack some Aussies in the related code too.
      I’m tipping the Drua will end up becoming an SR side from 2021 on in any event, a bit like the Argies playing in the SAF Vodacom Cup prior to them getting into SR ….

    • Roar Guru

      September 21st 2017 @ 10:28am
      Riley Pettigrew said | September 21st 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Great article Simon, the Drua are adding a new dimension to Australian rugby which is great to see. It’s exactly what the ARU need right now. As opposed to three new franchises from PNG, Samoa and Tonga I’d establish just the one – a merger between Samoa and Tonga. I don’t know whether Samoa and Tonga have the captial to support a franchise each and PNG don’t have a strong enough union to warrant having a team.

      A 10-team NRC in 2018 sounds good to me.