Fijians insist HK weekend is part of their religion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am

Fiji have been victorious 11 times in Hong Kong, more than any other nation. So it's not surprising Fiji fans come from far and wide. In fact, these four Fijians come from four parts of the globe. And all come from high places.

It's taken them years to get to the Sevens and all were determined to enjoy it.

Inoke Raikoso is a retired Fijian government and trade official whose job was to sell Fiji to the world. These days he spends half of his time in the US with his family and the other half in Fiji.

Vimi Smith is a mother who lives in Beijing, where her husband is a UN security adviser; Peni Salbogi lives in California, where he is a businessman; and Epeli Buliciri lives in London, where his father was in the British Army. 'I might have been raised in London, but I was given all the Fijian traditions, including rugby,' says Buliciri.

Added Raikoso: 'Fijians take the Hong Kong Sevens very seriously. This is the greatest rugby tournament in the world. You can't beat it. And there is no better player than Waisale Serevi. When Fiji had a good run at the Sevens in the early 1990s I recall when a national holiday was declared.'

'It still is a holiday, and they made it three days after the Rugby World Cup win in 2005,' chipped in Smith, who also pointed out Fiji were victorious in the two World Cups held in Hong Kong, the first being the handover year in 1997.

Said Buliciri: 'The Jews have Israel, the Muslims have Mecca, The Catholics have Rome and the Fijians have the Hong Kong Sevens.'

Summing up the fervour that Fijian rugby fans are known for, Salbogi said: 'When you land in Hong Kong, you just know you're in for a very good time. It's a dream of all Fijians to come to Hong Kong to attend the Sevens. Everybody watches it on television and for all of us to finally be here today is legendary.'