Fijian rugby legend Waisale Serevi has put out a call to the small Pacific nation - to pray for the Fijian rugby team ahead of their quarter-final match against England.
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The 55-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Wizard’, is widely regarded as the best rugby seven player of all time; forever wowing fans with his speed and skills on the field.
Taking to Facebook, he wrote in Fijian: “To all our Fijians around the world, one job, please. Please pray before the kickoff for God to give them power, strength, and wisdom to do the right thing, in the right place, at the right time.
“We, as a nation, believe that you will make England fall this week.
“I want to wish my brothers in the Flying Fijians squad who are preparing for the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarterfinals in Marseille this week all the very best.”
He let the team know of the pride the nation felt for them and called on the boys to reset, refocus, stay positive and stay strong.
Waisale also included two Bible scriptures in his post - Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13, the latter of which reads: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
It has already been a special week for Fiji - with the national rugby team advancing through to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals and the country celebrating 53 years of independence. In New Zealand, it is Fijian Language Week.
The last time Fiji competed in a quarter-final was in France in 2007 against South Africa, who went on to win that World Cup.
This Rugby World Cup has been a series of victories for the Fijian team, defeating Australia 22-15 and for the first time since 1954.
Pacific fans backing Fiji as Tonga and Samoa knocked out
In their final World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham about six weeks ago, the Fijians thrashed England 30-22 in a historic first-ever win against the English.
If Fiji defeats England this time, it will be only their second victory over the mighty English and it will also be the first time Fiji has made it to the semi-finals of a Rugby World Cup tournament.
Rupeni Caucaunibuca, having played for the Fiji team, said: “My advice to all Fijians is that we need to support and pray for them and forget the past. We have to move forward and leave it to God.
”If they want to go past the quarterfinal, they have to work hard.”It’s been 16 years.”
Some of Fiji’s statistics include 15 international wins against Tier 2 countries since 1952 - their first win against a Tier 1 nation being that against Australia.
As well as Fiji, two other Pacific Tier 2 teams qualified for this year’s tournament - Tonga and Samoa.
Tonga has never advanced to the quarter-finals. Samoa has reached the quarter-finals three times: in 1991, 1995 and in 1999.
Samoa’s first appearance in a Rugby World Cup, in 1991, is still talked about - particularly its shock 16–13 win against Wales in Cardiff, which left the rugby world both stunned and delighted.
With Fiji being the only Pasifika team to advance to this stage of the World Cup, many Pacific fans are now getting behind the Fijians to do well.
Nicky Little, Fiji’s most capped player and try scorer, recently posted on social media about the comradery and solidarity between the Pacific Island teams and players.
”Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji, all we have is each other.”
The Flying Fijians, along with New Zealand and Argentina, could join South Africa as the only teams to have won the World Cup despite having previously lost a pool-stage match.
The Fiji-England quarter-final takes place in the early hours of Monday, NZT, with live Sky coverage starting at 3.40am
Hero Image: Fijian rugby icon Waisale Serevi in the glory days. Photo / Photosport.nz
Image 2: Fiji players during the national anthems at Stade Geoffrey-Guichard, Saint-Etienne, France. Photo / Photosport