It was in front of a Saint-Etienne public committed to their cause that the Fijians exploded the cauldron, humiliating the Australians (22-15) to better get back into the thick of qualifying.
How do you measure an achievement in international rugby? Big question… If we consider that seeing the ninth nation in the world beating the seventh is an achievement, then yes, the Fijians’ victory against the Wallabies is an achievement. If we also consider the history, the past, and the fact that the Australians have already won two world championship titles (1991 and 1999) while the Flying Fijians have never reached the quarter-finals, also.
But frankly, whoever had the pleasure of witnessing this Australia-Fiji on the pitch of Saint-Étienne will be able to attest that the Fijians certainly did not achieve a feat as they were – and by far – the best team on the ground. Delivering an unconventional performance which ignited the 42,000 spectators at Geoffroy-Guichard and excited the entire rugby world, with the notable exception of an Eddie Jones who was not upset (at least in appearance) for a penny. “We were beaten and there is nothing to say about it, admitted the Australian coach. The physique of the Fijians suffocated us. They dominated and deserved their victory, I am delighted for them. As for us, we can only go back to work… The good thing about a World Cup is that you can lose a match without losing the competition. The whole group is restarted, we must now beat the Welsh to maintain our chances of qualifying while looking at the results of the others.”
Radradra: “for those like me who have lived in Australia for a long time, it is a very symbolic success”
It must be admitted that after this success for the Fijians, the whole face of Pool C has been changed. Given the double bonus won against the WelshSimon Raiwalui’s men have thus returned to the top of the qualifiers, tied with the Australians (6 points) who can consider themselves lucky to escape with the defensive bonus, which Lomani could have taken away from them on his last attempt … “The future will tell us whether it was a good thing or not to leave them this point, sighed ex-captain Semi Radradra. What we wanted was just to win against Australia. For many of us who grew up there, it was very symbolic, for me first of all. We don’t want to stop there but yes, we can talk about a historic victory.”
Kuruvoli: “a great day in the history of Fijian sport”
And this story seems more than ever in progress for these Fijians, more eager than ever to shatter their quarter-final glass ceiling, to enter the history of their country. “Not many people bet on us, smiled scrum-half-scorer Simione Kuruvoli, happy to have achieved a flawless performance against the poles for the first time in his career. It’s a great day in the history of Fijian rugby, perhaps Fijian sport. We struck a big blow by winning at Twickenham this summer, but this time it’s even bigger. I hope that, in front of their TV, we have made lots of young Fijians want to come and try our sport, hoping to continue to make them dream.” And the whole oval planet behind them, which more than ever has Chimene’s eyes for these devilish Fijians, with whom she has always maintained a passionate relationship.