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Topsy Ojo Column: Tragedies have galvanized Fiji… they are a force to be reckoned with

F

iji has suffered two terrible tragedies at this Rugby World Cup, and my thoughts are with Josua Tuisova, Sam Matavesi and their families.

Tuisova’s son died after a long illness, while Matavesi’s father died this week. There could hardly be a more difficult two weeks for their team.

Emotionally, it can be extremely difficult to deal with things like this, with your mind wandering somewhere other than rugby. At the same time, such events can also galvanize a team.

Fiji are one of the most united teams in this competition. Most players are devout Christians and benefit from spiritual and religious guidance within the team.

When Fiji describes themselves as brothers, it is very easy to believe that they do indeed have that level of relationship. Events like these can sometimes give a group a higher purpose.

There is no doubt that Fiji will take the field on Sunday thinking: “Let’s do this to honor these people, let’s do this in their memory.”

Tuisova’s decision to stay at the World Cup and miss her son’s funeral in Fiji indicates they will use their grief to fuel the fire.

Fiji will take the approach that the loved ones they have lost will look down on them and be with them on the ground. So while honoring their families, they will also go out to honor all the people of their country.

Josua Tuisova’s son dies during World Cup

/ Getty Images

This approach will be incredibly difficult to follow, but knowing what I have known and seen of Fiji, they will gather, pray, and then come out guns blazing.

England’s decision to start Marcus Smith at full-back is extremely bold; the return of Owen Farrell as fly-half is much more anticipated.

The George Ford-Farrell combination played well last week in the one-point win over Samoa, when England got the ball on the front foot. However, England are struggling to do this enough and Ford-Farrell has also upset the balance of the midfield defence.

Some of England’s defensive problems last weekend came from the first phase attacks.

Test teams want to build momentum in the crucial first three phases of any attack, so if a future opponent has problems there, it can be absolute gold in terms of analysis and special preparation.

England know they will have to impose their game on Fiji to win this match.


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