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Address at the iTatau of the Fijian Drua Rugby Union Team to the Australian National Rugby Championships

August 26, 2019       State House, Suva

The Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Rugby Union, Mr. John O’Connor;
The Coach of the Fijian Drua Team, Mr. Senirusi Seruvakula;
The Team Manager, Mr. Peceli Derederenalagi;
Players and Officials;
Reverend Viliame Tunidau;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and gentlemen.

Ni sa bula vinaka, and a very good morning to you all.

At the outset, I wish to acknowledge and thank the good Reverend for sharing with us a few words of Divine/ Wisdom and direction and a prayer to inspire us all and strengthen further our belief in Almighty God as we gather here to farewell our Fijian Drua Rugby Team in the Traditional iTaukei protocol with the presentation of the iTatau ceremony.

As your President/Head of State, it is such a pleasure to welcome you to the newly renovated Conservatory of the State House.  Because last year we conducted this ceremony at the Borron House.

As usual I deem it an honour to receive, on behalf of Government and the people of Fiji, our Fijian Drua Rugby Team that will be departing our shores shortly to defend the Australian National Rugby Championship Title which you gallantly won at the end of the Competition last year.

I welcome your visit to present your iTatau in the same manner and spirit that I have always welcomed all of our National Teams that had come before you.

In that regard, I congratulate all of you for your selection into the Fijian Drua Team. “Many are called, but only a few are chosen”! Congratulations and well done!

Your performances at the 2018 Australian National Rugby Championship were exceptional and your overall achievement in winning the Championship was another great milestone and ‘feather in our cap’ as a sporting and Rugby loving nation.

Again you have stamped the name of our beloved nation in the annals of World Rugby as Champions with your show of strength, courage, perseverance, teamwork, but more importantly our Fijian Winning Bula Spirit - a proud and enviable passion to excel and win.

I personally believe that when you combine team work, hard work, perseverance with divine guidance and empowerment from Almighty God as alluded to by the Good Reverend, nothing is impossible.

I have every confidence that you will again succeed with your team objective to perform exceptionally well in defending the Championship Title.

I am also pleased to know that this team comprises of local players who have shown the selectors and coaches that you deserve to be selected into the Fiji Rugby Union Drua Team and hopefully make it into our National Flying Fijians Team in future!

I would like to remind you to know and understand that being selected to represent our beloved nation in any international sporting competition at any level has always been very challenging indeed because you will be expected to perform to the best of your abilities as expected of you by your Coaches, Colleagues, Families and Friends, and especially from a Rugby Mad Fijian community here at home and our wider global diaspora.

At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge the hard work that your coach and his officials have put towards your preparation and in ensuring that we maintain and retain our competitive edge and relevance at all times to enable you to succeed in your mammoth task ahead.

You all know too well how important rugby is to our beloved Nation as this is one sport that can bring all our people together.

Rugby is no longer just a game; it is also a means for a better life for your families. It is increasingly an important contributor to our country’s economic growth as well.

You are going as a team and not as individuals. You also go as sports ambassadors for our beloved country.

You carry the reputation of our nation on your shoulders. Please do this with dignity and honour.

Please, allow me to give you some fatherly advice – To the players I would like to remind you to remain focussed, listen to your coach and officials, play as a Team and look after one another – be good Ambassadors, on and off the field and always display good sportsmanship by accepting victory with humility and defeat graciously.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of my other responsibility as our beloved Nation’s Chief Advocate/Champion in our national endeavours to combat the Present, Real and Clear Threat of the Prevalence of Non-Communicable Disease related ailments (Hypertension & Diabetes) within our Communities.

Please maintain your fitness and continue to manage a healthy lifestyle – by eating well and exercising daily, as our nation spends millions annually on the treatment of NCD related ailments – much needed funds that could be directed into other sectors like Education and Sports to ensure that you our athletes of today can continue to represent our country as fit, well trained and motivated Fijians in years to come.

I therefore, accept your itatau, on behalf of the Government and all Fijians, with sincere appreciation and gratitude and wish you well and every success as you depart our shores and “venture forth to do battle” on the Rugby field.

Be assured that our Prayers and good wishes are with you always.

May Almighty God bless you and our beloved Fiji.

Vinaka Vakalevu.