Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018: Fiji vs Argentina proves Pacific Island nation’s fans are best in the business
Support for Olympic champions at AT&T Stadium is phenomenal but South Africa and New Zealand will ensure they don’t have it all their own way
One commentator said “it feels like Suva or Nadi” at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and the Fijian fans have again proven they are the best in rugby, if not all of sport, at AT&T Park this weekend.
They have come out in droves to support their team and with them comes a vibe and an electricity that those familiar with the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will be well aware of.
The home of the San Francisco Giants has been awash with the light blue of the Fiji flag and the cheering and singing of the fans has reverberated around the baseball stadium throughout the tournament.
It seems like everywhere you go in the western world there are Fijians but it’s not only expats that get behind their team as they travel the globe, a fact not lost on Leone Nakarawa.
Fiji face @unionargentina in the Championship quarter-finals.
— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 21, 2018
“I think a lot of people came all the way from Fiji to come and support the team. I want to thank them for that and we just want them to keep supporting the team,” the destroyer said after playing a starring role in Fiji’s quarter-final demolition of Argentina.
Fiji are into the semi-finals without so much as raising a sweat after dispatching Japan 35-10 and then dismissing the Argentines 43-7, but they will need all the support they can get when they take on New Zealand on Monday morning (Hong Kong time).
Should they get past the All Blacks Sevens, a Cup final showdown with either England or South Africa awaits, meaning we are in for a humdinger of a finish to the World Cup and the team that goes all the way will have to be at the very top of their game.
Can Fiji create history by becoming the first team to win three Sevens World Cups and as a result give their loyal fans the success they deserve?
While being a Fiji supporter in recent years has certainly not been tough, they have had their share of disappointment in 2018.
After losing in the final of the Commonwealth Games, the islanders gave up what seemed like an unassailable lead heading into the final round of the HSBC World Sevens Series to hand victory to South Africa.
A win in San Francisco would make all of that go away and there seems to be a sense of destiny when Fiji step out in major sevens tournaments, but they are not the only team fighting to create their own piece of history.
Their semi-final opponents New Zealand have also won two World Cups and would edge into the outright lead with a win, while South Africa have never won even one.
It seems an anomaly that a side that has won the last two World Series and has another win and six second-place finishes in the nine years before that is yet to win any of the most prestigious sevens tournaments.
The Blitzboks have never won in Hong Kong and the World Cup has also eluded them – maybe the time is now for them to break that drought.
England will also fancy their chances after ruining the hopes of hosts USA with an extra-time win in the quarter-finals.
— Rugby World Cup Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) July 22, 2018
After a huge build-up and a groundswell of support for the team, the USA had the look of a side destined to go deep into the competition, but sevens is a funny game and nothing is guaranteed.
That’s why the Fijians, despite the addition of European-based stars Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra and Nakarawa to an already brilliant team, are not a sure thing.
And while the world’s best fans can’t assure Fiji of a win, you can bet your bottom dollar they will be doing everything they can to get their team over the line and will be gracious in victory or defeat.
For that, this World Cup and the sport of sevens is better off.