My excitement at watching England play Fiji was somewhat tempered by the news that each home player would received £22,000 a man and the Fijians £400 as the RFU ‘paid’ their visitors a paltry £75,000. I understand money doesn’t change hands as a rule, but the likes of Australia and the All Blacks have reciprocal arrangements with the Northern Hemisphere teams giving them a chance to make money back that way. This isn’t the case for Fiji, a nation struggling to fund their sport, I felt slightly ashamed to be there knowing those facts.
Eddie Jones had made some changes to the team that beat South Africa, with Alex Goode coming in for Mike Brown and Semesa Rokoduguni. Jonathan Joseph was also back in the centres, but with Jonny May missing Elliot Daly remained with an 11 on his back. That seemed a little strange as he hasn’t played on the wing as far as I know, however it was a choice that worked really well as Daly and JJ roamed that wing together, with very positive results for England.
The Fijians to use a technical word, were HUGE! With the exception of their scrum half they are man mountains. England scored 9 tries with Jonathan Joesph, Elliot Daly and Rokoduguni scored early shocking Fiji who had been no mugs at the World Cup in 2015 were being run over by an England team playing some great rugby.
The next try was as a result of a strong ruling maul by England with new boy Teamana Harrison touching down – Fiji were down 24 nil after 20 minutes. A looser maul, if that makes sense saw Joe Launchbury score England’s 5th try.
However England rather lost their way with 10 minutes of the half remaining and the almighty winger Nemani Nadolo ran through a gap in the defence on the wing to touchdown for the first of 3 tries by the visitors. Leone Makawara one of the Fijian 7’s Gold Medalists scored the 2nd, powering over the line with 4 England defenders hanging off him, immense strength! The cameras panned to Eddie Jones, it has to be said he looked displeased. The teams went in at half time with the scores on England 34 Fiji 10, as Owen Farrell had split the Fijian tries with a penalty.
Jones will have been less than impressed when the Fijians made his defence look like a bunch of lightweights when Metuisela Talebula scored a superb try, backing himself he broke through 3 would be tacklers.
Order was restored with 4 more tries from England, with Joe Launchbury, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Goode and Rokoduguni racking up the points. England scored some great tries with lots of running rugby with forwards who can pass like backs. But, their defensive weaknesses will be capitalised on by better teams such as Argentina and Australia. They’re not he finished article yet. The final score was England 58 Fiji 15.