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Pacific Games gold for Fiji

Fiji were Pacific Games gold medal winners for the fourth time yesterday, but the eyecatching story was Wallis & Futuna winning bronze in their first ever tournament.

Fiji have won gold again at the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.  This was the fourth time the Games has included sevens, and the fourth time gold has gone to the Fijiana.

With no Australia to worry about – team that beat them in the Oceania Sevens final two weeks ago, and the only team to ever beat the Fijiana at the Games (back in 2015 in the group stage) – this was something of a stroll for the World Series team, who – despite selecting a team of mainly rising stars - only conceded one try over the three days, in the final against Papua New Guinea.

Fijian veteran player Lavenia Tinai said: “Massive shoutout to our young players in the team; I am very proud of them.

“This is my third Pacific Games, and seeing how far our team has come in this tournament, especially since we consist of mostly new players, is very fulfilling for me,” she told the Pacific Games News Service.

Despite their loss, Papua New Guinea captain Marie Biyama said: “That was a tough comeback, and we fell short with some mistakes in the game. We will learn from this and work very hard to build the girls for future competitions.”

However, perhaps the story of the Games was the success of the Wallis and Futuna islands, who took bronze in their first ever international seven tournament. The islands are technically part of France – like French Guiana who had a period of success when they were briefly appeared in the RAN Championships a decade ago – so cannot join World Rugby or take part in their tournaments, but can play in regional Games such as these as they do not come under World Rugby. French XVs captain Manaé Feleu's parents are from the islands..

Wallis and Futuna head coach and former Fiji national 7s player, Sailosi Nawavu, told the Pacific Games News Service: “This is the first time for our women’s rugby team has participated in the Pacific Games, and to come away with a medal is just amazing.

“Rugby only just started a decade ago in Wallis and Futuna, and we are still developing; however, today’s win will certainly boost the sport back at home and inspire the next generation of players.”


Pool A: Cook Islands 5-22 Solomon Islands; Fiji 29-0 Wallis & Fortuna; Cook Islands 12-22 Wallis & Fortuna; Fiji 47-0 Solomon Islands; Solomon Islands 7-10 Wallis & Fortuna; Cook Islands 0-60 Fiji

Pool B: Nauru 0-51 Tonga; American Samoa 0-35 Papua New Guinea; American Samoa 10-36 Tonga; Nauru 0-31 Papua New Guinea; American Samoa 36-10 Nauru; Papua New Guinea 33-5 Tonga

Semi Finals: Papua New Guinea 26-5 Wallis & Fortuna; Fiji 44-0 Tonga

5th 8th Place Semi Finals: American Samoa 21-12 Cook Islands; Nauru 0-24 Solomon Islands

7th Place: Cook Islands 34-0 Nauru

5th Place: American Samoa 5-19 Solomon Islands

3rd Place: Tonga 7-17 Wallis & Fortuna

Final: Fiji: 17-7 Papua New Guinea