Reviving Rugby Glory: Historic Club Returns After 30-Year Absence

After three decades without a rugby team, Votualevu has successfully revived its club. Located near Nadi International Airport, Votualevu has been a hotspot for producing national rugby sevens and fifteens stars.

During its golden era, the club boasted players like the legendary flanker Iokimi ‘Iron Man’ Finau, who captained Nadi and the Flying Fijians in the 1980s. The Rabaka brothers, Samisoni, Tomasi, and Saula, also emerged from Votualevu, playing for the Cavaliers under the late Don Collingwood’s leadership. Samisoni and Tomasi went on to play for the Flying Fijians, while winger Benji Navunisalevu represented the club in sevens rugby. The club also produced top footballers like former Nadi and national striker Usaia Visawaqa and Akariva Ramusu.

Club president Waqa Vulawalu noted that the Votualevu Housing area had been in the “red zone” for various reasons. “We want to change the perception of the area, and one way to do that is to bring back the rugby team,” Vulawalu stated. He emphasized that rugby could offer young men contracts with overseas clubs, providing a new lease on life for their families.

“We have about 120 youths in the area, many of whom are school dropouts and unemployed. We aim to bring them together for the community’s betterment,” Vulawalu added. He mentioned the Drua franchise as a potential gold mine, viewing it as part of a larger effort to combat poverty.

The revival has united the community and various denominations under a common vision and mission. The club’s team manager is Vikatoria Rabaka, and the team chaplain is Seremaia ‘Tablee’ Visawaqa.

Training sessions have commenced with plans to participate in the next rugby sevens tournament and eventually field a team in the Nadi Rugby Union in the near future.

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