Classics and Legends put on show in Suva

by Marty Cambridge

The Classic Wallabies tour of Fiji has ended, going down 52-19 to a stacked Fijian Legends side but the trip was never about the game’s result.

A packed crowd at ANZ Stadium in Suva treated to the exhibition game as a curtain raiser to the NRC clash between the Fijian Drua and 2016 champions Perth Spirit.

The Classic Wallabies were led by Stephen Hoiles, while the local heroes were captained by World Rugby Hall of Famer inductee Waisale Serevi, who returned to the city of his birth.

“It was so special, I was so emotional running out of the tunnel to play in front of the home crowd,” Serevi said.

“I couldn’t remember the last time I played here but to play here, running with some of the players that played together at the 2005 World Cup it was an honour and privilege for me.

“I thank Steve Hoiles for arranging this game, if it wasn’t for them it would be difficult to play at home again.

“It means a lot, history has been created today, first time ever for former Fiji Sevens or 15s players to represent Fiji in this kind of game.  I’m so thankful to everyone.”

Hoiles jokingly suggested his side allowed the home heroes to come away with the victory.

“It was probably best to let Fiji win, they had some quality players out there and it was an awesome day,” Hoiles said.

“I think it was fantastic to be able to do this with a country like Fiji who has given the game and the Wallabies so much over the years.”

The exhibition match, the culmination of a week-long tour for the Classic Wallabies who were based at Warwick Fiji while they spent time in local communities, running clinics and sharing their passion for rugby.

“It’s been a fantastic week, we’ve been at schools and villages, we’ve been able to go to Henry Speight’s, Tevita Kuridrani’s and Lote Tuqiri’s village and say thanks.”

Hoiles was joined by Tuqiri, Radike Samo, Mark Chisholm, Matt Hodgson, Patrick Phibbs and Morgan Turinui who have all represented Australia at the highest level.

“We were all pretty relaxed until we were presented the jerseys and to see the golden crest and the golden jersey, it still means something special to us,” Turinui said.

“It’s almost like it’s always been, playing for your country with your mates is a really humbling experience.

“Putting on the gold jersey means something, whether it’s Under 16s and it’s your first time or if you’re on the wrong side of 30 and possibly doing it for the last time, it’s a pretty special experience no matter when it is.