Rugby World Cup Sevens

Fiji lift Cup as promised with divine display of skill

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 1997, 12:00am

Fiji called on its awesome rugby skill and a little help from on high to fulfil its promise of winning the Rugby World Cup Sevens, sparking off celebrations that went on all night.

Captain Waisale Serevi started the tournament promising to leave with the Melrose Cup, and his team did just that, beating South Africa 24-21 in the final.

South Africa, world champions of the 15-a-side game, scored twice within a few minutes to move out 14-0, and it was clear the Fijians would need a supreme effort.

It came, in the second half, and some might say the wily Fijians had summoned up some divine intervention with a biblical reference they daubed on the fronts of their jerseys yesterday.

It was 'Phil 4:13', referring to Philippian's gift: 'I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.' Their anxious supporters might take comfort from the next verse: 'Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.' Serevi's mesmerising performances made him an easy choice in an All Star team, named by the World Cup organisers at last night's celebratory dinner.

The others were teammates Marika Vunibaka, Jope Tuikabe and Aminiasi Naituyaga and South African opponents Stephen Brink, Joost van der Westhuizen and Andre Venter.

For the Hong Kong side it was a question of what might have been as they lost 40-28 to Tonga in the Plate final, after leading for much of the first half. The American Eagles beat Japan 40-28 in the Bowl category.

But while most thrills were on the pitch, there were still plenty of frills, fun and fancy-dress at the final day of what organisers said was Asia's largest rugby event.

Fifty seven people suffered minor injuries and there were five arrests, two for streaking and three involving indecency. See also Sports Post