The world’s first global rugby superstar, Jonah Lomu, has confirmed his attendance at Fiji’s Coral Coast Sevens in November.
Speaking today at the launch of the tournament at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa, the former All Black said there was nothing to compare with rugby sevens in Fiji.
“The Fijians epitome having fun and enjoying the game, which I played because I loved, and playing the Fijians were the big test for me,” said Lomu. “The hardest tournament to win is one in Fiji as all the teams, not just the national team are so hard.
“Fiji is the mecca of rugby sevens and if you can beat Fiji in their own backyard you know you have done something special.”
Lomu said it was very easy to accept the invitation to the launch and that he was looking forward to returning in November.
“Fiji has always been a great place for me and coming here is coming home because the people make you feel so welcome,” he said. “They bring a passion and a style to the arena that delights the world and they always do it with a big smile.
“It is a great pleasure to be here and I look forward to coming back and sharing it with my family.”
Lomu has no doubts the Coral Coast Sevens is a special tournament.
“The motto for this tournament – discover the passion – says exactly what Fiji Sevens is all about. This event is the start of something amazing and one the world of sevens really needs and I can see it getting stronger every year.
“I believe it won’t be long until we see Fiji back hosting the IRB circuit and this sport of rugby sevens will be the game to watch at the Olympic Games.”
Chairman of the Coral Coast Sevens, Jay Whyte, said having Lomu as a guest was a privilege for all involved.
“We are incredibly honoured to have Jonah as our ambassador this year and we sincerely thank him and Nadene for making themselves available to the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens,” said Whyte. “Their presence complements the most exciting line-up to date, which includes our inaugural women’s tournament and will feature up to 15 overseas teams.
“Jonah dominated world rugby from his first appearance at the Hong Kong Sevens in 1994 until his retirement from international play in 2002, and his passion for the Olympic version of the sport saw him win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1998 and a Rugby World Cup Sevens winners’ medal in 2001.
“Off the field Jonah has been an inspiration to millions worldwide as he has faced and overcome his kidney illness. His countless visits to schools and hospitals, his charity work and his memorable appearance at the opening ceremony of Rugby World Cup 2011 have defined him as the ultimate ambassador for the game.”
Today’s launch follows hard on the heels of the announcement that Serevi Rugby has signed a three-year partnership with the tournament, and Waisale Serevi provided a video link-up from Seattle.
“We at Serevi Rugby are all very excited and looking forward to being part of the Coral Coast Sevens, especially with Jonah Lomu being included as chief guest,” Serevi said.
His team, Serevi Selects, joins Sunnybank from Australia and Otago University from New Zealand in the ‘champion of champions’ event, with additional teams from around the Pacific Rim to be announced soon.
The inaugural women’s event will also have an international flavour with three teams expected from Australia and others awaiting confirmation.
The tournament, on 15-17 November at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka, is sponsored by Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa, Warwick Fiji, The Naviti Resort, Serevi Rugby, Air Pacific, Sigatoka River Safari, Coastal Rental Cars, ANZ, Tappoo’s, Rosie Holidays, King’s Neon Signs, Fiji TV, The Fiji Times and Communications Fiji Limited.