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Fijian family extended to Welford Road

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There will be no one in world rugby who begrudges Fiji's Olympic gold. A first Games gold in any sport for the proud island nation, it was entirely fitting it should come in their favourite version of their favourite sport. And at Leicester we can be forgiven for enjoying it alongside them.

Their style in the Olympic Sevens tournament illustrated everything you want to see from a Fijian, with its breathtaking combination of power, pace, footwork, offloads, physicality and an overwhelming desire to keep the ball alive. And the players loved it as much as we did.
At Leicester, of course, we have strong links with the Pacific Islands and the Tigers Family can share a special pleasure in seeing Fiji’s Olympic eminence.
Some of Fiji's greatest players have worn Tigers colours and made a lasting mark on this corner of the rugby world.
Waisale Serevi is acknowledged among the very best in Sevens rugby history and, although he did not stay long at Welford Road, we were privileged to see him in Tigers ranks.
Vereniki Goneva brought a finishing power to the Tigers backline which at times looked unstoppable in his four seasons after arriving utterly unheralded from the French second division.
And, while Seremaia Bai was less spectacular, he had a presence in the squad which was a tribute to the respect he commanded from everyone around him in a playing career spanning seven countries and almost two decades.
And let's not forget the man who scored a hat-trick on debut, Serevi’s contemporary, Marika Vunibaka. Though it turned out to be his only appearance as a Tiger after failing to fulfil Home Office criteria to extend his stay, he has earned a place in the club’s record books.
Then, of course, there is the late, great Seru Rabeni. Everything you’ve seen in Fiji’s Olympians, Seru brought to a Tigers shirt. We were blessed that his best days came playing for our club and we won't forget them or him in a hurry. Tributes paid in his memory last season spoke volumes for where he stood in rugby.
As well as their playing gifts, our Fijians have all had that gentle touch as human beings too. Humble, grateful, amiable, they looked like they played for the love of the game and never forgot where they had come from to get there. For all their talents on the pitch, there are just as many warm memories of the men off it.
Thank you Fiji - and congratulations.