Game 3 of my weekend involved England’s opponents in the opening World Cup match, Fiji, I was very interested to see the team who’d line up against the hosts. At £25.00 for an afternoon of international rugby at The Stoop it was as they say, a no brainer.
I donned jeans, for the first time in years, so I could wear my England jersey in proper style. Having very nearly melted in gym trousers and the jersey a few weeks before I was hoping for decent, yet not too hot, weather.
As far as Canada were concerned I must admit that the only player I recognised on the team sheet was Jamie Cudmore; a very high profile player plying his trade at Clermont Auvergne. At 37 this will be his 4th World Cup, a point he thought he wouldn’t make after suffering severe concussion in April, given the all clear he’ll be there playing his heart out for his country.
Canada open their World Cup account with a game against Ireland, seeing him face fierce rival Paul O’Connell – the 2 literally came to blows at Thomond Park a few years ago, that’ll add an interesting spark!
Back to the game in hand, we were treated to a rendition of the Fijian anthem by a group who also performed at half time, it was a real shame that they could barely be heard with no microphone on hand, but a lovely start all the same.
The Flying Fijians they’re known looked huge, I find myself at a loss as far as being able to name them as I didn’t buy a programme and just can’t find a squad list with photos online!
But, Nemani Nadolo one of their wingers was about twice the size of most normal flyers! He was also a very fine kicker! I contemplated the size of our wingers of choice, Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell will need immense technique to take this giant of a man down!
As well as their size I’d say that an offshoot of that will be one of their key strengths; they simply pushed Canada off the ball in the scrum, winning penalty after penalty, often in a kickable position. England will need to get the ball out of the scrum quickly if they’re to avoid the same fate.
Fiji dominated throughout every facet of the game, yet lost their structure at times in the second half. They will be no pushover in this tournament with plenty of game time together behind them. In general it’ll be interesting to see if game time is more effective as a build up than a rugby camp.
Scrumhalf Niko Matawalu and winger Waisea Nayacalevu both scored two tries and Metuisela Talebula added another for Fiji, they were a delight to behold in flight, a sight I hope not to be seeing at Twickenham on the 18th! DTH van der Merwe scored two tries but it wasn’t enough and Canada fell 47-18 to Fiji. A disappointing result for them in their final warm up game.
The halftime entertainment was a traditional Fijian dance and was wonderful! The ground was by no means full which was a real shame, both teams deserved to be playing in a full stadium and it was a chance to see international rugby at a reasonable price.
- Cost of Ticket £25.00