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Fiji

Fiji Bati
Country Name: Republic of Fiji
Local Name: Matanitu Tugalala o Viti
Team Name: Bati
Nicknames: The Bati
Colours: White and Black
Inaugurated: 1992
First WC Appearance: 1995
No. Of RLWC Titles:0
Governing Body: Fiji National Rugby League
Region: Asia-Pacific

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Fiji Rugby League

Fiji has to be one of the most unique countries in the world. Made up of 332 separate islands who are all sure to come together to support their country at the World Cup.

The Fijians are making huge steps forward domestically and have a he number of youngsters coming through the Australian systems.

This has led to the Bati been able to put out one of the strongest teams in at the World Cup.

Since first appearing in 1995, Fiji have become stronger and stronger as a nation and managed to reach the semi-finals in 2017 and since then their player pool has continued to increase in both quality and in quantity.

The Fiji RL team is now full of experienced NRL and Super League players and the increase exposure of the sport in Fiji has led to increased development in the domestic game with the plans well advanced for a full time professional team to play out of Fiji in the Australian system.

Fijian National Rugby League Team

Fiji have develop into a strong 2nd tier nation and are now a challenge for any country on the world stage but one of the best aspects of the growth of the sport for Fiji has been the establishment of a professional club team in the country that participate in the Australian system.

That should see the conveyer belt of local talent continue to grow and improve to add to their heritage stars from across Australia and New Zealand.

Colours and Kit

The Fiji playing kit does change from tournament to the next but it is always easy to recognise them when they take to field thanks to their white and black colour scheme that usually consists of a predominately white shirt with black shorts.

Honours

Fiji have yet to enjoy title winning success on the international stage but that has not stopped them from been one of the success stories as they have reached the semi-final stages of the World Cup on a number of occasions as well reaching the same stage of the 2009 Pacific Cup.

Notable Players

There has been a long history of Fijian rugby players playing the 13 man code dating back to the 1960’s when Joe Levula and Laitia Ravouvou joined Rochdale over here in the United Kingdom and they made big strides forward in the southern hemisphere when Noa Nadruku joined Canberra but over the past 20-30 years, the number of Fijian born players and heritage players across the professional game has continued to grow to the point where many of their biggest stars are the players to currently play for them.

Lote Tuqiri, Petero Civoniceva, Daryl Millard, Semi Radrada, Ashton Sims, Akuila Uate, Sisa Waqa and Semi Tadulala were early stars for Fiji whilst players such as Maika Sivo, Brayden Williame, Kevin Naigama, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, and Korbin Sims a flown the flag more recently.

History

Fiji have a long history of playing Rugby Union but the 13 man code was a later edition to the sporting landscape but with Fijians always excelling in the 7’s version of other code, it has been no surprise that they have excelled upon switching to the 13 man version and that League is now making huge inroads into the sporting landscape in the country.

Whilst Union players had crossed over for decades, the sport wasn’t introduced properly until 1992 but it quickly saw a huge increase in participate and interest, with a representative side excelling in the Rugby League World Sevens.

The step up to the full 13 man version was helped by playing against a British amateur side and a second string French side in the early years before making the step up to the world stage at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup.

They also qualified for the 2000 edition but faced a tough group consisting of England and Australia, so it was no surprise that they struggled but they did impress against South Africa when they racked up over 50 points for their first ever win.

The 2000’s saw the country make even bigger strides forward with a runners up finish at the 2006 Pacific Cup before reaching the semi-finals of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

They achieved that same feat in both the 2013 and 2017 editions and now they are well cemented as a top Rugby League playing nation that are always as a challenge for anybody they face out on the pitch.

The establishment of the Kaiviti Silktails Rugby League Football Club, a domestic professional Fijian Rugby League club that participate in the 2nd tier of Rugby League in the Australian system and who are based in the city of Lautoka and who play their matches at Churchill Park, should prove to be a huge stepping stone for local talent to enjoy a professional environment, challenge themselves against a higher level of opponent and to hopefully step up to the international stage and move onto clubs in Australia, New Zealand and over here in Europe.

If that does go to plan, the Fijians should increase their playing pool and that only improve the standards across the board for the benefit of all countries and fans of international Rugby league.

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