Fiji’s Olympic and 2016 Hong Kong champions immortalised in new seven-dollar banknote

Rio-winning coach Ben Ryan also has a 50-cent coin dedicated to his achievements as Fiji’s Reserve Bank celebrates the country’s success in sevens rugby

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 8:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 8:59am

Less than two weeks after skipper Osea Kolinisau lifted the HSBC/Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens trophy, his image has been immortalised in a new seven-dollar banknote the Fijian government issued on Thursday to celebrate its rugby sevens team.

Kolinisau is depicted running in full flight over the backdrop of a Fijian flag with coach Ben Ryan pictured in what is now his iconic seated position taken from the top of one of the sand dunes the players use to run up during training for big events.

The F$7 (HK$26) note is legal tender and celebrates the Fiji team’s epic journey to Olympic Games gold at Rio de Janeiro last year. Fiji scored a 43-7 triumph over Great Britain in the Olympic final eight months ago fielding almost the same team who won the Hong Kong Sevens in 2016.

“[It] just shows you how much the Fijian people care and value its rugby. Awesome,” said Ryan, who attended the unveiling ceremony led by Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Retired) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama in Suva.

The reverse side of the note is dominated by a picture of the entire Fijian Olympic sevens squad. The Reserve Bank of Fiji also issued a commemorative 50-cent coin that shows Ryan in his seated position.

The Bank’s governor Barry Whiteside also praised former Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber, who led Fiji to their third straight title at the Hong Kong Stadium on April 9.

“We honour our Rugby 7s gold Olympians by delivering what we trust will be an iconic banknote and coin that we hope will be loved by all Fijians, young and old alike, whether they are here in Fiji or abroad,” said Whiteside.

“But not only by Fijians, but also by people who love sports, who love collecting banknotes and coins and those who have Fiji at heart.

“It would be remiss of me not to recognise Gareth Baber and our current 7’s gladiators, who reminded us just how good we are by demolishing South Africa in Hong Kong just 12 days ago.

“It is a true trait of Fijian rugby players that when they are happy, they play their hearts out and there’s no stopping them. We saw that in Rio and again in Hong Kong just recently.”

Though the banknote and coin are legal tender, Fijians and others are likely to keep them as souvenirs. One commentator pointed out that the seven-dollar note is convenient because Fiji has five-dollar and two-dollar notes, making it easy to obtain change.