All-time greats Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings will team up for the first time ever in the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens on Saturday.
Serevi, who played for Fiji for a remarkable 16 years, and Gollings, the all-time leading scorer with 2652 points in 70 tournaments for England, have opposed each other on many occasions and will join forces in the Seattle-based Serevi Selects.
“We were tough opponents on the field but great friends off it and we are looking forward to playing together on Saturday,” said Serevi. “It’s great to have world class players such as Ben, who is still fit and running well and still keen to represent his country, here in Vancouver as well as international teams like the Cayman Islands which will make for a competitive tournament.”
“I’ve travelled the world playing rugby but never been to Vancouver so I jumped at the opportunity to come over from England,” added Gollings. “I know rugby is growing in Canada, particularly rugby sevens, and it’s great to be part of it and help grow the awareness of this Olympic sport.”
The tournament has moved to Vancouver’s Swangard Stadium after three years in nearby Abbotsford, reflecting the growth in the sport which debuts at Rio 2016. Four women’s teams – Abbotsford, Burnaby, Serevi Selects and Velox – will also play on Saturday.
“We thank the organising committee, Tourism Burnaby and the tournament officials for growing this tournament and Serevi Rugby’s partnership with the Vancouver Sevens, which includes fielding two teams, is exciting,” said Serevi. “We are looking forward to this weekend and I invite all families to come to the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens and enjoy this great game.”
An outstanding field will contest the premier men’s event at Swangard Stadium, led by Serevi Selects, five-time USA national champions Old Puget Sound Beach and local favorites Global Lighthouse.
As well as Serevi himself there will be a strong Fijian influence with the Wings Fijian Select and Pacific Islands, a team from just over the border in the USA.
The Pacific Islands replace Wardens of Fiji who were unable to obtain transit visas to travel to Vancouver.
“It is unfortunate that we are not able to welcome a team from the spiritual home of sevens this year,” said Chairman of the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens, Netani Gucake. “Despite the best efforts of a number of friends the visas required for the United States were not able to be secured in time and we made the difficult decision of replacing the team at the 11th hour.”
The Wardens had been invited as champions of the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in Sigatoka.
“We will commence planning immediately for 2013 to build on the relationship being developed between our two tournaments, who share a common ally in Serevi Rugby,” continued Gucake. “Meanwhile we look forward to seeing the talents of all the players – men and women – this weekend.”
Fiji national players Joji Ragamate, Ilai Tinai, Lepani Botia and Niko Verekauta, as well as former rep Api Naiyabo, were among the players due to turn out for Wardens.
Fiji’s Coral Coast Chairman, Jay Whyte, said he was looking forward to the Serevi Vancouver International Sevens.
“We wish all teams and players, particularly those from Fiji, the best of luck this weekend and we will be following the results with interest. As a relatively new tournament ourselves we appreciate the efforts that Netani and his team have made to invite the Wardens, and, although it did not come off this year, we look forward to a long-term partnership.”
Click schedule image for larger